Located at the most southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula, Gibraltar is a small but fascinating destination. This British Overseas Territory is renowned for its history, nature and the macaque monkeys that live on the island. Over the centuries, many wars have been fought to control the patch of land of Gibraltar, because of its strategic position as exit and entrance gate to the Mediterranean Sea. Nowadays, Gibraltar is one of the most densely populated areas, with a population of 32.688 people in an area of 6,7 square km. In this blog post, we’re sharing the best things to do in Gibraltar, so you can make the most of your time on The Rock.

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The Rock

A visit to Gibraltar isn’t complete without a visit to its iconic Rock. The Rock of Gibraltar is a limestone rock formation with a distinctive shape. The upper part of The Rock is a nature reserve and is home to around 300 Barbary macaques. There are multiple sightseeing spots in the Rock’s nature reserve, such as the Moorish Castle, Saint Michael’s Cave, a network of underground tunnels, and of course lots of viewpoints overlooking the Strait of Gibraltar, the Mediterranean Sea, Morocco and Spain.

The Rock in Gibraltar

The Rock

The easiest way to reach the top of The Rock is by Cable Car. From the Cable Car top station you can access the Nature Reserve. You need to buy a separate ticket for the Cable Car as well as the Nature Reserve. The Nature Reserve ticket grants access to the Skywalk, Windsor Suspension Bridge, St. Michael’s Cave, Great Siege Tunnels, World War II Tunnels, O’Hara’s Battery, and the Moorish Castle. It’s also possible to hike up The Rock, but be aware that the hike is around 2 km long and the path gets quite steep. It will save you the cost of a cable car ticket though. Prepare to walk a bit even when you take the Cable Car up The Rock. The Nature Reserve is quite large and getting from one attraction to the other involves a bit of hiking and going up and down stairs.

Opening hours of the Cable Car
Summer (April - October): daily from 09:30 until 19:15
Winter (November - March): daily from 09:30 until 17:15

Cable Car return ticket: £19

Check this website for current opening hours of the Cable Car and to buy tickets online.

The opening hours of the Nature Reserve differ per attraction. You can check the current opening hours of each attraction on this website.

Nature Reserve ticket: £18

If you’re coming from Spain, you can buy a combination ticket for the Cable Car and the Nature Reserve, including return transfers from the border to the Cable Car.

View from The Rock, Gibraltar

View from The Rock

We planned on taking the Cable Car, but unfortunately, the Cable Car was closed for maintenance when we were in Gibraltar in January 2024 (one of the down-sides of traveling in low-season). A third option to get up The Rock is by going on a guided tour, which is what we eventually decided on doing. During the tour, the guide takes you to three viewpoints, two of which are filled with macaques. The tour is by minivan that seats eight people. The guide will tell you a bit about The Rock and about Gibraltar. Going with a tour guide is the best option if you don’t want to walk too much and/or if you’re short on time. A ticket to the Nature Reserve is included in the tour. You can book the guided tour online through this link.

The first stop of the tour was at Queens Balcony, offering beautiful views of the town of Gibraltar, as well as the Bay of Gibraltar and Spain.

Queens Balcony in Gibraltar

Queens Balcony

View from Queens Balcony, Gibraltar

View from Queens Balcony

The second stop of the tour is at the feeding place of the macaques. Since the macaques roam freely around the Nature Reserve, you never exactly know when you will run into one. At the feeding place, however, there are always plenty of macaques, especially right after feeding time. Watching the macaques roaming around, eating the potatoes or just simply relaxing is actually a lot of fun. We prepared for the worst behavior of the macaques, but they were actually very friendly. There were some guides that lured the macaques on tourists’ heads with food for photos, but we didn’t notice any aggression or macaques trying to steal sunglasses etc. There was one cheeky macaque that opened a tour guide’s minivan door, stole candy from the dashboard and then closed the door again. At least it was mannered enough to close the car door itself. However, when it finished the packet of candy, it threw the wrapper on the ground. So there is still some need for improvement in that behavior, haha.

Macaque monkeys in Gibraltar

The cheeky monkey that stole candy from a guide’s minivan

Macaque monkeys in Gibraltar

“I sits here.”

The last stop of the tour is at the Military Heritage Center. From here you have a view of Gibraltar’s airport and Spain. We saw a few macaques here as well. We decided to walk back to the town from here, as it was only a 20-minute walk downhill, but you can also go back down in the minivan if you wish. The Military Heritage Center is near the Moorish Castle so you would have the opportunity to visit the castle if you’d opt to walk.

View from the Military Heritage Center, Gibraltar

View from the Military Heritage Center

The Moorish Castle in Gibraltar

The Moorish Castle

Main Street

Gibraltar’s Main Street runs all the way from Grand Casemates Square and ends at Trafalgar Cemetery on Trafalgar Road. As Gibraltar is known for duty-free shopping, the Main Street, which is lined with shops, is a must-visit when in Gibraltar. You don’t have to do anything to be eligible for duty-free shopping. Since there’s no VAT on goods in Gibraltar, shopping in Gibraltar is duty-free for everyone, not only for those outside of the UK. To be fair, when we hear about duty-free shopping we’re usually very skeptical as it’s often not actually cheaper than shopping with duties. However, when we checked out a perfume shop in Gibraltar we noticed that the prices of the perfumes were way less than what we would pay back home in the Netherlands. For instance, we paid £57 (around €67) for a 60ml Dior Sauvage parfum, which would have been around €110 in the Netherlands. We guess duty-free shopping in Gibraltar really is worth it.

Main Street in Gibraltar

Main Street

The Main Street isn’t only lined with shops, but also with plenty of restaurants, making it a great place to look for lunch or dinner. Grand Casemates Square is also full of restaurants, so if you don’t see anything you like on the Main Street, there are more options there.

Grand Casemates Square in Gibraltar

Grand Casemates Square

Red Telephone Box in Gibraltar

Keep your eyes peeled for the typically British red telephone boxes

Catalan Bay

Catalan Bay is a picturesque fishing village along the eastern coast of Gibraltar. The small bay is filled with colorful houses, making it a perfect photo spot. We loved spending some time in this bay and taking a leisurely stroll on the beach. As we were visiting in January, there wasn’t much to do on the beach, but Catalan Bay is definitely a feast to the eyes. We can imagine that Catalan Bay is filled with people sunbathing during summer. The Bay is a 30-minute walk from Grand Casemates Square. If you have a car in Gibraltar, you can also drive to Catalan Bay, which is only a 5-minute drive from the city center. Parking at Catalan Bay is free.

Catalan Bay in Gibraltar
Catalan Bay in Gibraltar

The colorful Catalan Bay

Europa Point

Another sightseeing spot worth visiting is Europa Point. Europa Point is the southernmost point of Gibraltar. It’s not the southernmost point of the Iberian Peninsula though, that is Tarifa Point in Cádiz. On a clear day, you can see Morocco across the Strait of Gibraltar, as well as Spain across the Bay of Gibraltar. Europa Point is also home to the 19 meter tall Europa Point Lighthouse. It’s a beautiful place to soak in the surrounding views, especially during sunset. You can reach Europa Point in 10 minutes by car from the city center. The car park at Europa Point is free. Europa Point is a 50-minute walk from Trafalgar Cemetery, which is quite long. Alternatively, you can take the bus route 2 from Trafalgar Cemetery which ends at Europa Point. A bus ticket is £1,60/€2,40 for a single ride and £2,40/€3,60 for a return ticket. You can only purchase bus tickets from the bus driver with cash, in either GBP or euros. Check this website for more information about bus route 2 and the timetable.

Europa Point in Gibraltar

The Europa Point Lighthouse

Europa Point in Gibraltar

View of Morocco from Europa Point

Europa Point in Gibraltar

Sunset at Europa Point

How to get to Gibraltar

Gibraltar has its own airport with daily direct flights from the UK, which is the best way to get to Gibraltar from the UK. For anyone else, the best way to get to Gibraltar is through Spain. La Linea is the closest town to the border, only taking about 15 minutes to walk. Algeciras is another town that’s close to Gibraltar with bus routes driving all the way to the border, which takes around 45 minutes. Other cities on the Spanish coast that are close are Marbella (1 hour by car), Cádiz (1,5 hour by car) and Malaga (1 hour and 45 minutes by car). If you’re coming by car, you can either leave the car at the border (which is cheaper) or drive into Gibraltar. You don’t necessarily need a car in Gibraltar, but it could be useful if you want to drive to Catalan Bay and Europa Point without being dependent on bus schedules. Alternatively, you can go to Gibraltar on a guided day trip from cities such as Malaga, Marbella and Sevilla.

After crossing the border in Gibraltar, you can take the bus to continue your journey or go by foot. It’s a 20-minute walk from the border to the city center of Gibraltar. Please note that the walking route Google Maps indicates isn’t the right one. When walking into Gibraltar you’re crossing the runway, instead of walking around it as Google Maps suggests. This saves a lot of time and is a fun experience too! When a plane arrives or departs, the runway crossing for pedestrians is closed for a moment.

Airport runway in Gibraltar

Crossing the airport runway

If you’re coming into Gibraltar by car and you’re visiting the city center, you have to park the car in one of Gibraltar’s car parks. The two central car parks are ICC Car Park and Midtown Car Park. With £23 for an entire day, ICC Car Park is a little cheaper. However, we read a lot of bad reviews about the payment situation as you can only pay with cash and if you pay in euros, the change is given in pounds. As we prefer payment by card and didn’t want to change our euros to pounds, we opted for Midtown Car Park, which is a bit more expensive with rates going up to £30 for an entire day. For us it was well worth it to avoid the hassle.

Macaque monkeys Gibraltar

How long to stay in Gibraltar

You can easily visit Gibraltar on a day trip from Spain and see all the highlights. If you want to explore the Nature Reserve and all of its attractions, you have to make an early start as the Nature Reserve is huge and you can easily spend five hours there. Make sure to start early if you’re visiting on a day trip. Alternatively, you can stay the night in Gibraltar to have a bit more time. We actually stayed two nights in Gibraltar, which was too long to be honest. It’s nice to see everything at a leisurely place but Gibraltar at night isn’t very lively. Lots of restaurants close before dinner and the restaurants that are open are mostly empty. It’s a huge contrast to Spain, where everyone seems to live outside, especially in the evenings and even on weekdays in January. We’d recommend staying for a maximum of one night or to just visit Gibraltar on a day trip from Spain.

Castle Steps in Gibraltar

Where to stay in Gibraltar

Since most people visit Gibraltar on a day trip, there aren’t many accommodation options in Gibraltar. As we were traveling with 4 adults, we opted for an apartment in the city center called Stunning Penthouse - City Centre Skyline Balcony, just off Main Street. It was a nice two bedroom apartment with one bathroom, a living room and a small balcony. The apartment was small but had everything we needed for a short stay. There were closets to store our clothes, there was a Nespresso machine for coffee and a fully equipped kitchen (which we didn’t use). It’s a self check-in process which we prefer. During our stay in the South of Spain we weren’t always lucky with the bathroom in terms of warm water, but luckily the shower in Gibraltar had plenty of warm water. We didn’t have any problems showering with 4 adults (1 at a time 🙂). We can highly recommend staying in this apartment. We noticed that in the same building, Grand Central House, there are more apartments that you can book through Booking.com.

Click here to book Stunning Penthouse - City Centre Skyline Balcony.

Click here for more accommodation options in Gibraltar.

Don’t forget to bring a UK travel adapter when staying in Gibraltar!

We hope you’ve enjoyed our guide to the best things to do in Gibraltar and that our blog post inspired you to visit this fascinating British Overseas Territory. Have you been to Gibraltar or is it still on your travel bucket list? Let us know in the comments below!

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