Gibraltar, British overseas territory, is a place of strategic importance. In the Middle Ages, the territory was dominated by the Moors. Later, it has been fought over by Spain, France, and Britain – all claiming its possession. Today, it is self-sufficient and benefits from an extensive shipping trade, offshore banking, and its position as an international conference center. Tourism in Gibraltar constitutes one of the territory’s most important economic pillars. Its main attractions are the Rock of Gibraltar with a resident population of Barbary macaques (monkeys), military heritage, duty-free shopping, casinos, and marinas. It is definitely a destination worth paying a visit. Here is what you need to know before your holidays to Gibraltar.
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What To Know About Holidays to Gibraltar
I added a visit to Gibraltar to my 14 -day tour of Southern Spain. And I am glad I did. It is an interesting place due to its historical significance, unusual location – practically an enclave in Spain – and of course the monkeys!
I recommend visiting it if you are touring Spain, but I would not make it a special trip. Other than the Rock and its attractions, it does not have much to offer. Overall, it has a very industrial vibe, especially in contrast with charming, colorful, and much cheaper Spain just a few miles away.
Is Giblartar a part of Spain?
No. It is a British overseas territory. Along with other British territories, it is a remnant of the British Empire and does not form part of the United Kingdom. Most of the territories are internally self-governing, with the UK retaining responsibility for defense and foreign relations.
The United Kingdom’s Overseas Territories are spread across the world and span a diverse range of cultures and environments. They all have the British monarch as head of state. Other most known territories include Bermuda, British Virgin Island, and the Cayman Islands.
Where is Gibraltar located?
With the first look at the map, you will know why Gibraltar holds prime strategic importance. It guards the Strait of Gibraltar, which is the only entrance to the Mediterranean Sea from the Atlantic Ocean. Since the 18th century, the territory has been a symbol of British naval strength.
It shares a land border with Spain to the north. 14 kilometers (9 miles) to the south is Morocco, on the other side of the Strait of Gibraltar, one of the world’s most important shipping channels.
What language is spoken in Gibraltar?
The official language is English. Most locals are bilingual, also speaking Spanish, because of the country’s proximity to Spain.
Crossing the Border with Gibraltar
Take into consideration the border gets busy during the rush hours when Spanish workers are commuting. Try to avoid these times to avoid lines.
Gibraltar is not a part of the Schengen area (26 European countries without borders). Everyone needs a passport to cross the border.
The official currency is Gibraltar Pound (tied to the Pound Sterling). The best way to pay is by using credit cards. Most businesses will take Euros, but you will charge you an elevated exchange rate.
The cost of goods and services is similar to or slightly above the cost of goods in England but significantly higher than in Spain next door. However, there are some exceptions due to the beneficial tax rates, so fuel, petrol, and diesel are cheaper, and also alcohol and cigarettes.
Weather in Gibraltar
Temperatures are pleasant all year, with a low chance of precipitation for most of the year. The area is more temperate than most — in the 77th percentile for pleasant weather — compared to tourist destinations worldwide.
The warmest time of year is generally early to mid-August, where highs are regularly around 85°F (29.4°C) with temperatures rarely dropping below 71.1°F (21.7°C) at night.
How many nights to spend in Gibraltar?
If you are not coming to enjoy the beach, then one full day or one night with two days is sufficient. Gibraltar is small and not as charming as Andalusia. Plus it is more expensive. Still, definitely worth a visit because of its uniqueness.
Driving in Gibraltar
We did not have a good experience while driving in Gibraltar. How can you if there is a huge rock smacked in the middle of it? The roads are narrow and winding, and GPS seems to be confused by the Rock.
Parking in Gibraltar is limited and expensive. The main car park is by the base of the cable car.
Map of Gibraltar
Most of the attractions circulate around the Rock. If you do not have much time, limit your visit to the Nature Preserve.
Click on the number icon for more information.
What to see in Gibraltar
THE ROCK OF GIBRALTAR
The Rock of Gibraltar, 426 m (1,398 ft) high, dominates the city’s views and delivers outstanding panorama from the top. Most of the Rock’s upper area belongs to the Gibraltar Nature Reserve, home to around 300 Barbary macaques. At the top, you will also find a large viewing area and a restaurant.
How to get to the Upper Rock Nature Preserve
The cable car is the fastest way up to reach the Upper Rock. Tickets include the general entrance to the Nature Reserve at the top. The journey takes 6 minutes.
Walking to the Upper Rock
We did it the hard way. Not only we climbed it to the top but all the way from Europe Point! We got lost a few times in the city but eventually found an entrance to the reserve and made it to the top.
It was a long and steep climb, but interesting. Views were getting better and better with every step! We took a cable car down and then a taxi back to the car.
Visit www.gibtaxi.com for more information and a guide to tour prices. Typically, most of the major attractions of the Rock are included. It is definitely a good option if you do mind groups.
Gibraltar’s Skywalk offers 360º views spanning three countries and two continents and links to other sites within the Gibraltar Nature Reserve. Honestly, the Skywalk did not impress. It is smaller than all the other ones I visited before in various places in Europe and North America.
St. Michael’s Cave
St. Michel’s Cave consists of a network of limestone caves located within the Upper Rock Nature Reserve at the height of over 300 meters above sea level. The cave is open to visitors (included in Nature Preserve ticket) and makes a unique auditorium for concerts, ballet and drama.
MONKEYS OF GIBRALTAR
Without a doubt, monkeys draw a lot of interest to Gibraltar. Originally from Morocco, the Barbary macaque population holds the only wild population in Europe.
Although most Barbary monkey populations in Africa declined due to hunting and deforestation, the Gibraltar population is doing well. Currently, some 300 animals in five troops occupy the upper rock area of the Gibraltar Nature Reserve.
Do not fall for their cute look; they could be dangerous. Do not cross their path on narrow trails, and do not feed them. Also, hold on to your bags! They tried to steal my camera bag twice from my hand!
This is the southernmost point of Gibraltar. On a clear day, you can see North Africa across the Strait of Gibraltar.
Attractions at Europa Point
The Ibrahim-al-Ibrahim Mosque
The Ibrahim-al-Ibrahim Mosque, one of the most often visited places in the territory, is considered the largest mosque to exist in a non-Islamic country. It opened in 1997 at the behest of King Fahd of Saudi Arabia. Muslims living in Gibraltar use it daily.
Shrine of Our Lady of Europe
The Shrine of Our Lady of Europe is a Roman Catholic parish church and national shrine of Gibraltar.
Europa Point Lighthouse
Also called Gibraltar’s Trinity Lighthouse, it was built in 1841 at the southernmost point of Gibraltar, the gateway between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Today, it is fitted out with modern LED beacons capable of beaming light 18 nautical miles out to sea.
This memorial took me by surprise. As a person originally from Poland, I was happy to see a piece of Polish history there. The monument was designed and constructed by a Polish company with sandstone transported from Poland.
The Sikorski Memorial commemorates the 1943 B-24 plane crash of 4 July 1943, which caused the death of General Władysław Sikorski, the commander-in-chief of the Polish Army and Prime Minister of the Polish government in exile.
Casemates Square is a place to relax with the views of the Rock. Along with busy Main Street, it offers a wide range of restaurants, cafes, bars, and shops.
Beaches of Gibraltar
I only saw beaches from the top of the Rock. They look nice but small. I heard that monkeys visit them too, so again, watch your bags! Check out this Gibraltar Beach Guide
Gambling in Gibraltar
With incredibly low taxes and some of the biggest names in the online gaming industry residing there, Gibraltar has been the world’s biggest gaming hub for years. It’s estimated that 60 percent of all online wagering in the world goes through the country’s 26 online casino businesses.
Hotels in Gibraltar
Gibraltar offers its visitors diverse accommodation, from hotels in the heart of the old town to beachfront rooms with balconies.
The Caleta Hotel Health, Beauty & Conference Centre
Located right on the Mediterranean Sea, this 4-star hotel features stunning views of the water. It has a restaurant, a grill with alfresco dining, and a health and beauty club.
This landmark hotel, located on the Rock, offers stunning views. Built in 1932, it is decorated in colonial-style decor. Each room had views of the sea.
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