The British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar, aka ‘The Rock’, is a little slice of Britain complete with fish and chip shops, traditional pubs and iconic red post boxes.
Climb The Rock, but don’t feed the monkeys!
The hulking limestone rock that dominates Gibraltar is first up on most travellers’ must-see lists. Peaking at 426 meters (1,398 ft) on the Iberian Peninsula, the easiest way up is definitely by cable car at Alameda Gardens (unless you fancy the hike). Admire the view on the way up and down, which the Greeks and Romans believed that the rock marked the very edge of the ancient world. And waiting at the top is the Upper Rock Nature Reserve, which is home to Gibraltar’s most famous resident; the fiercesome Barbary Macaque monkeys. Do not, under any circumstances, feed these little terrors – they can be vicious!
The view from atop the rock is simply breathtaking; look towards Africa, see where the Mediterranean meets the Atlantic and see Spain’s landscape laid out as far as the eye can see.
And once you’re within the Upper Rock Nature Reserve, there’s plenty to see and do. Explore the Great Siege Tunnels which are an elaborate labyrinth of manmade tunnels devised during the Great Siege of (1779 to 1783). Peer into the Apes’ Den to see the wild and mischievous macaques – the only free roaming primates within Europe. And admire the 11th century Tower of Homage, aka the Moorish Castle.
Climb the Mediterranean Steps
The steep, winding path of the Mediterranean Steps is a tricky climb taking around 1.5 to 2.5 hours to navigate. Spanning 1400 meters, the walk climbs to 419 meters at O’Hara’s Battery. The walk labelled as ‘hard’ navigates the east side of the rock, over cliffs and scrub, but the views are absolutely incredible.
Spot dolphins in the Mediterranean
Take a boat trip around the coast of Gibraltar to spot whales, turtles and dolphins as they come to feed on the sardines, flying fish and squid. Whole families of dolphins congregate in the glistening waters of Gibraltar Bay and if you time your visit just right you’ll catch them leaping and feeding. And the most magical sight of all has to be the might Blue Whale.
Browse the Gibraltar Museum
Open since 1930, the Gibraltar Museum sits atop the Moorish Baths which date back to the 14th century and which have been carefully preserved. Covering the history and natural history of Gibraltar it’s a great starting point to familiarise yourself with the diverse culture. The rich and varied galleries start from the Jurassic period of 200 million years ago and include exhibits covering the present times. Don’t miss the Jurassic Rock film, the Roman Anchor on display and the intriguing Moorish Baths which is part archaeology site.
Admire the magnificent Cathedral of St Mary
Within the small territory of Gibraltar are cathedrals, churches, a synagogue, Hindu temple and mosque.
Admire the Cathedral of St Mary the Crowned, which is a Catholic place of worship in a curious blend of styles. There’s no British influence here, more Spanish and Moorish, although much of the cathedral was destroyed during repeated shelling id the Great Siege.
Wander the King’s Chapel which houses the remains of former British governors. Admire the pretty St Andrew’s Church with its ornate stained glass windows. And visit the elaborate Mosque Of The Custodian Of The Two Holy Mosques which was constructed on Europe Point in 1997 and paid for by the late King of Saudi Arabia.
Pack your binoculars for a spot of birdwatching
The opportunities for birdwatching in Gibraltar are superb as the Strait is the most narrow crossing point for migrating birds traversing the route between Africa and Europe. In fact there are more than 200 different bird species using this airspace with the Barbary Partridge now a resident. Spot the Black Kite, Short-toed Eagle and Egyptian Vulture in spring, the White Stork and Cory Shearwaters in summer and Greylag Goose and Crane over winter. All year round the Goshawk, Avocet and Greater Flamingo can be spotted.
Explore St Michael’s Cave
At the top of the cable car station near to the Apes’ Den is the natural grotto of St Michael’s Cove. People from the Neolithic period lived here, which today is used for theatre performances and concerts – thanks to the superb acoustics!