Gibraltar has a long and rich history due to its strategic location. Until today, the city is part of the United Kingdom despite being located in the South of Spain. In this City Guide, we’ll explain why it’s definitely worth visiting the city!
It might sound a bit odd, but when doing a tour of the South of Spain or Andalusia in particular, visiting the United Kingdom is a great thing. The fact that Gibraltar is British territory despite its location on the Southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula, only a few kilometers away from Morocco is purely historical and political, but makes visiting Gibraltar even more interesting, if you ask me. The city really doesn’t feel like Spain, even though you are so close. So let’s dive into what Gibraltar has to offer and why at least a day trip is absolutely worth recommending.
You want to get an idea of how odd visiting Gibraltar feels? Well, upon parking in the neighboring Spanish town (mainly consisting of parking lots), you’ll have to cross the boarder first.
While there were hardly any controls, it still was a somewhat odd experience for just visiting a lonely town in the South of Spain.
It’s generally worth noting that Gibraltar is one of the most densely populated areas in the world, making space the most precious thing in town. This proves to be particularly problematic regarding the commercial (mainly flights to London) and military airport as you have to cross the runway when entering the city.
If an airplane departs, this means that you have to wait for a couple of minutes alongside all the cars, busses and other pedestrians. It sure feels a bit crazy, but is somewhat fun as well. From the boarder to town you need about 30 to 45 minutes walking, but you can also take a bus.
The first areas of town, you’ll see won’t be really beautiful as the North District is more functional than beautiful, but that shouldn’t stop you.
When visiting Gibraltar, the historic city center definitely should be one of the areas that you may not miss. You’ll find it right next to the central bus station, where the Grand Casemates Gate is located.
Funnily, this side looks not all that charming, while after exiting the gate, you’ll find yourself in a totally different world on a really beautiful square.
I particularly enjoyed the Southern European atmosphere combined with the British inspired buildings around the square – really lovely.
There are also various different restaurants and cafés and lots of opportunities to sit outside.
This sure is one of the nicest areas in town, but there’s more!
From Casemates Square, you can just follow the so-called Main Street in the direction of ‘The Rock’.
This street not only comes with various charming boutiques and lovely shops, but also several historic buildings.
Among those, I liked the stunning Magistrates Court Gibraltar the most.
As you’d expect, there are a couple more churches in Gibraltar, including the Holy Trinity Cathedral.
The most impressive though (they are all located in the city center) is the Cathedral of Saint Mary the Crowned though.
If you are not that much into churches, you will still enjoy walking through the old town of Gibraltar as there are various nice little streets and charming buildings.
Due to strong winds during my visit, I sadly didn’t make it to The Rock as the cable car ceased operations. Nevertheless, this sure is another spot worth visiting in Gibraltar (you can have nice walks and enjoy great views from the top).
Plus, you can meet monkeys, which must be a funny experience as there is no other place in Europe, where you can find wild monkeys.
Nevertheless, even without visiting The Rock, walking to the station of the cable car is worth it as it’s right next to the Gibraltar Botanic Garden.
It’s located in a hilly area, but comes with various nice Mediterranean plants (maybe the only Botanical Garden of that kind in the United Kingdom) and feels very quiet and back laid.
When visiting, there was hardly any other person to be seen and walking around here was a really nice experience – definitely worth recommending.
There are also a couple of statues and monuments as well, in case you are into that. Plus, a typical British phone box!
I’d definitely recommend to at least spend half an hour or though here.
Due to its location, Gibraltar has lots of waterfront areas. However, several are occupied by the military, so there are only a couple nice spots to sit by the water. My highlight in that regard is the Queensway Quay.
It’s a mix-use space of restaurants and flats, also home to a yacht harbor.
Here, you can have a nice afternoon tea with a view of the ocean – not the typical thing you do a trip through Spain, but very funny for a change.
You can also find a couple of other interesting areas not far from here, including the Ragged Staff Gates.
The Wellington Front is also worth passing by.
In general, I was quite surprised by how many interesting things I saw when just walking through Gibraltar as the city combines history with a very special charm.
Gibraltar isn’t very often recommended as a destination and that’s a shame, in my opinion. The city has a unique charm, making it a bit more special than cities like Manchester or Cardiff. The special location, the different style of buildings compared to other cities in the area and the rich history make Gibraltar an incredibly interesting experience. Sure, you don’t have to spend several days here, but for a day trip, Gibraltar sure is worth recommending!