With pubs, fish and chip shops and afternoon tea on offer, entering
Gibraltar is like stepping foot in Britain. Yes, this is a British
territory, but the warm climate and the occasional swap between English
and Spanish give away its location, on the tip of Spain.
out into the sea, it’s the striking natural landscape that draws most
visitors to Gibraltar. It might be a small land, but there’s no shortage
of attractions here: from the 426-metre high Rock where Barbary apes
roam around, to the underground tunnels and the dolphins swimming by the
Below are the best things to do in Gibraltar, including tips on where to eat and where to stay.
Start your day in Gibraltar by heading to the cable car base station.
Hop aboard, and you’ll reach the top of the Rock in around six minutes.
It’s here you’ll find most of the town’s main attractions, including the
Gibraltar Nature Reserve, home to the Barbary apes and numerous bird
species that migrate from Africa to Europe. The views from up here are
also incredible as the Rock overlooks Gibraltar, Spain and Morocco.
of Gibraltar’s military history are still visible here, like the
Moorish castle or the canons within the Siege Tunnels. Still, it’s the
Barbary apes that most people come to see. There are around 200 of these
wild monkeys, most of them living at the top of the Rock, but you can
occasionally spot them in other parts of the territory.
Even though they
look cute, they’re still wild, which means they can sometimes bite. The
best place to see them up close is at the Apes’ Den. Make sure to keep
your possessions away as they tend to snatch them and please don’t feed
Note: The first cable car departs at 9:30 a.m., and the last one down is at 5:45 p.m.
Great Siege Tunnels
Tickets for the Nature Reserve, also give you access to the Great Siege
Tunnels. These underground passages were dug out during the Great Siege
of Gibraltar in just six weeks. As you squeeze inside today, you can’t
help but marvel at the handiwork involved. The British created the
tunnels as a defence system against French and Spanish, who tried to
recapture Gibraltar. The siege lasted from 1778 to 1783, but thanks to
the cannons mounted inside these pathways, they were eventually
defeated. In total, they stretch for about 51 kilometres, with more
tunnels added during WWII.
From the tunnels, slowly make your way to the Gibraltar Skywalk.
Completed in 2018, it’s a new attraction, but it’s already among the top
things to do on the Rock. Set 340 metres high, it offers dramatic views
over the Strait of Gibraltar. If you’re feeling brave, you can walk
over the Windsor Suspension Bridge, a wooden walkway that hovers high
above a 50-metre gorge. On windy days, it can sway a bit, so it's not
ideal for those afraid of heights. The bridge is part of the Thrill
Seekers Trail, which takes visitors through some of the steepest paths
around the Rock.
Close to the Skywalk is the St. Michael’s Cave, the largest one in
Gibraltar featuring an impressive set of tunnels and chambers dropping
as low as 62 metres deep. It has been occupied since prehistory, as some
cave paintings have proved. Later it was used as a defensive structure
by the Moors and the Spaniards. Inside the caves, you’ll find a
breathtaking collection of stalactites and stalagmites. The Cathedral
Cave also includes an auditorium which occasionally hosts music and
dance performances. There are many legends associated with the St.
Michael’s Cave, with some people saying it connects Gibraltar to Africa
through a secret underground passage.
Next, head up to the O'Hara’s Battery. At 421 metres, it’s the highest
point on the Rock offering incredible views over the town and the sea.
It was built as a military fortification, and some of the artillery
pieces are still on display today. There are similar structures nearby
like the Lord Airey’s Battery and the Spur Battery, but nothing beats
the views from O’Hara’s.
From the Rock, take the cable car back down and spend the afternoon
exploring the town centre. Start with a visit to the Gibraltar Botanic
Gardens, aka the Alameda. This green oasis was designed as a quiet
respite for British soldiers stationed here in the 19th century. It’s a
bit busier these days, especially on weekends, but during the week it’s
still possible to come here and escape the crowds.
A few steps away on the Main Street is the Convent, one of the oldest
buildings in town. Dating back to 1531, it used to be a residence for
Franciscan priests. In 1728 it became the office for the Governor of
Gibraltar, but the building kept its name. You can’t go inside, but it’s
still worth passing through to admire its brick-tile facade.
Another building that deserves a capture is the Trinity Cathedral. While
it dates from 1832, this small church is famous for its Moorish revival
architecture, with striped horseshoe arches around its front.
To understand the region’s cultural and historical background, you
should visit the Gibraltar Museum. Here you can discover more about the
people who have occupied the area since the Carthaginian era to the
present day and the events that have shaped its history like the Great
Siege. Beyond these exhibits, visitors can also see well-preserved
Moorish baths in the basement. The building was the residence of the
Principal Artillery Officer, and it was only in 1930 that it got
converted into a museum.
St. Mary the Crowned is the second cathedral you’ll find in Gibraltar.
When the town was under Moorish rule, this was the site of their mosque.
It was only in 1462 that it got converted into a church by the Spanish
monarchs. Since then, it’s gone through several changes, with a bell
tower added in 1820.
Running adjacent to the Main Street is the Irish Town. Despite the
name, this isn’t a neighbourhood as such, but one single street. It gets
its name from the Irish women who arrived here in the late 18th century
to provide company to the British. Its proximity to the port made it a
thriving commercial area, but most of those buildings got destroyed
during the Great Siege. After an extensive renovation in the 19th
century, the Irish Town reemerged once again and has since become one of
the most lively streets in Gibraltar, with bars and shops lining each
Follow the Irish Town to the end, and you’ll end up in the heart of the
old town. Here traditional British pubs and red telephone booths blend
in with the Moorish and Spanish architecture. At the centre of it all is
the Casemates Square, with charming terraces offering views of the Rock
above. The old town is only 15 minutes away from the airport, so if
you’re flying to Gibraltar, it 'll probably be the first thing you’ll
End your tour of Gibraltar with a stroll around the Ocean Village. This
modern neighbourhood is located around the marina, which bears the same
name. For newcomers, it feels like a mini-Marbella, with private vessels
and trendy waterfront bars and restaurants. There’s even a luxurious
hotel housed inside a yacht. The marina gets pretty lively in the
evenings with locals occupying the bars or the hotel’s casino.
Beaches: Gibraltar is home to six small beaches, which
are often overlooked by tourists. To the east of the Rock are the sandy
beaches, while on the west, you’ll find more pebbles. The Eastern Beach
is the largest and also provides a variety of watersports. The only
downside is that it’s very close to the airport runway, so you’ll often
see planes flying over the beach. Other beaches include the Catalan Bay,
Camp Bay, Little Bay, Sandy Bay and the Western beach.
Another way to access the Rock, besides the cable car, is to hike up
the Mediterranean Steps. These were initially used by the British to
reach their military bases. Today it’s a way for locals to get fit. The
path begins at the Jews’ Gate on the southern end of the island and
continues through a winding staircase, not ideal for people with
vertigo. At the end of the route is a viewing platform overlooking the
Strait of Gibraltar. You will need about two hours to go up and down
Europa Point: This is the most
southerly point in Gibraltar, offering splendid views of the North
African coast, just 21 kilometres ahead. On a clear day, you can even
spot the Rif mountain range in Morocco. It’s a demanding hike to the
top, so if you don’t have a car, it’s best to hop on a bus from the town
centre, which takes about 10 minutes. Up here, you’ll find a
19th-century lighthouse, a small chapel and a striking mosque built in
the 90s. Other noteworthy attractions nearby include an ancient water
reservoir called Nun’s Well, and a stadium.
Gibraltar is an ideal spot for a family holiday. Its small size makes it easy to explore on foot in one or two days.
will enjoy the cable car ride up to the Rock, where they can see the
Barbary apes up close. In the same area, they can explore tunnels and
fortifications like the Moorish castle or admire the views from one of
the many lookout points. While in the town area there are museums and the botanical gardens.
waters around Gibraltar are also home to several marine species,
including dolphins and whales. From the marina, you can hop on a cruise
and have fun spotting these animals as the sun sets over the bay. If
you’re lucky, you might catch one jumping next to you. Tours are
provided by companies like Dolphin Safari and Dolphin Adventure.
entertainment facilities include The Kings Bastion Leisure Centre, a
large indoor complex which features an ice skating rink, bowling, arcade
games and a cinema.
Once you’ve seen the main sights, you can
spend the rest of your holiday relaxing on the beach or under a
terrace. With extra time, you can rent a car and explore other cities in
the south of Spain.
Charlie's Steak House And Grill: Diners can enjoy a meal with a view
at this local restaurant opposite the harbour. As the name suggests, it
focuses on steaks and grilled dishes. Beyond the high-quality meat cuts,
there’s a section with Indian cuisine, featuring some of the best
curries in town. Families can also order from the kids’ menu, which
includes burgers and pasta.
Rendezvous Chargrill: You’ll find this
restaurant at the Queensway Bay, close to the cable car base station.
Most dishes here come from a charcoal oven, including fresh fish and
steaks. There’s also a section with vegetarian dishes. To pair with the
meal, they offer a variety of wines, which you can order by the glass or
The Landings: Also in the Queensway area is this lively
restaurant and bar. The menu focuses mainly on seafood and fresh fish,
but there are also meat and vegetarian options. Beyond the food, it’s
worth coming here for the harbour views and the sunset.
Steakhouse: Gauchos offers mouth-watering Argentinian steaks cooked in a
black rock grill, similar to the parrillas barbecue used in
Argentina. Each section of the menu also comes with a wine suggestion
that compliments the meal.
The Lounge Bar & Gastro Bar: At the
Lounge Bar you can order breakfast until noon or enjoy tapas and drinks
all-day-long. Attached to it is the gastro bar, which serves lunch,
dinner and even afternoon tea. The desserts are also worth trying,
especially the cheesecakes.
Best Gibraltar Hotels
Sunborn Gibraltar Hotel (5 stars): The most luxurious and unusual
hotel in Gibraltar is the Sunborn Hotel in the Ocean Village. Housed
inside a yacht, most rooms here come with views of the harbour. It
features two restaurants and two bars, with one on the deck around the
outdoor pool. Other facilities include a casino and a spa with a fitness
centre and a sauna.
Rock Hotel (4 stars): Close to the Gibraltar
Botanic Gardens is the Rock Hotel. Its privileged location on the
foothill of the Rock, allows you to enjoy views over the sea and the
Strait of Gibraltar. Many renowned guests have passed through here,
including Sir Winston Churchill. The hotel includes one of the largest
pools in Gibraltar, as well as several dining facilities which serve a
mix of British, Spanish and Moroccan cuisine.
Holiday Inn Express
Gibraltar (3 stars): The Holiday Inn Express is located close to the
airport, and only 10-minutes away from the Eastern beach. If you’re
looking for a budget hotel, this is a good alternative. The rooms are
modern and comfortable, and some offer views of the Rock of Gibraltar.
Breakfast is included on the stay, and there’s an Italian restaurant
available for other meals.
The best time to visit Gibraltar is around spring or autumn. At this
time the temperatures are warm but comfortable enough to walk around the
city and explore the Rock. There are also fewer crowds around this
time. By July, the temperatures start getting higher and usually stay
that way until September. These months are the perfect time to head to
the beach or practice watersports like paddling or diving.
Three Kings Cavalcade: This is one of the most lively events in
Gibraltar. It takes place on the 5th of January, marking the end of the
holiday season. Marching bands, giant floats and carol singing take over
the streets, and some people toss sweets to the audience. The parade
usually departs from the Casemates Square around 7:30 p.m. and then
moves along the Main Street.
Gibraltar Spring Festival: The Spring Festival celebrates the arrival of summer in Gibraltar. It occurs between May and June and lasts for about three weeks. During this time, the town welcomes a series of events including dance shows, theatre performances, art exhibits and a food festival.
May Day Celebrations: Every year, Gibraltar hosts a variety of celebrations to commemorate the 1st of May. These include live music performances and a union rally usually held at the Casemates Square.
National Day: One of the most famous events in Gibraltar is the National Day on the 10th of September. The event celebrates a referendum held in 1967 when voters chose to keep Gibraltar as a British territory. On this day, locals dress in red and white and gather around Casemates Square, where street parties and concerts take place. There’s also a food fair near John Mackintosh Square serving a variety of local dishes. The highlight of the event, however, is the release of the balloons and the fireworks display over the bay.