During our trip to Spain we took a day to explore Gibraltar. I hadn’t done much research about the country (probably should have) but my brother and sister-in-law knew what they wanted to do, so we just went along. After all the planning for the trip I was happy to not plan and do whatever my brother wanted to do!
Gibraltar is a British Territory that was captured from Spain in 1704. Currently, Spain wants it back. It has a population of a little over 30,000 and is a tiny 2.6 square miles. FYI everything is in the British pound!
We didn’t have much on the agenda — just head up to the Rock of Gibraltar, walk around, see the wild monkeys (specifically Barbary macaques), and head down and eat before crossing back over into Spain. Unfortunately it was pretty foggy most of the tip we were up top, so I wasn’t able to get a lot of amazing photos.
The people at our hotel in Estepona gave us a great tip — they told us that there was a cheap parking garage near the Spain/Gibraltar border near the McDonald’s, park there and then just walk to Gibraltar from there. We were driving a rental car, and it was very easy to find. The area felt a little sketch, but it was fine. We crossed over into Gibraltar with no problems and spent the day. Tip — bring lots of coins to pay for the garage! We are lucky we had a lot with us! I think we had Euros and that was fine.
We bought tickets for the cable car and off we went up the rock. I would do some research to find the best deal for everything before you go. You have to pay to get into a lot of the sights, so I’m sure there are some group deals out there. Up at the top you get to this tiny station at the summit with restrooms and food. We thought the sign for the bathrooms was pretty funny.
I would definitely research what you want to do and where you want to eat in advance. My phone data didn’t work in Gibraltar since it was just for Spain, so I couldn’t help with finding a place to eat or directions.
At the top the monkeys are pretty much everywhere. You won’t have a problem finding them. They have plenty of food, definitely don’t feed them or try to touch them. They are wild animals, even though it’s hard to resist a monkey, people have been attacked. I had no issues and took tons of photos of them.
I wanted to walk down huge staircase going up the side of the rock but we were told that if the monkeys were on it it wouldn’t be smart to try to walk on it as they would see it as you trying to come onto their territory or corner them or something. Soooooo we steered clear of the steps. Ignore my crazy wind hair that badly needed a highlight.
We walked toward both ends of the top of the rock and got to see a great view of the airport, which is right on the border of Spain and Gibraltar.
I mentioned in this post that it is dangerous up at the top of the Rock of Gibraltar and if you have kids up there to keep a very close eye on them. Besides just the wild monkeys which have reportedly attacked people before, this is the reason (pictured above) why I think it’s so dangerous.
I walked up the other side of that semicircle to look over the edge. When I came through the other side I realized there is LITERALLY NOTHING there to stop you from slipping and falling, or simply stepping over the edge, and off the cliff. I can totally see someone not paying attention, being on their phone or looking through their camera, or trying to get a good shot on their GoPro, and just falling right off. That uneven concrete surface you see in the photo where the X is, is literally is the side of a cliff. There needs to be a waist-high fence or something right there. There is nothing. It FREAKED ME OUT so much that I just didn’t trust anything up at the top any longer. I felt like I kept seeing little spots that didn’t protect you from slipping off the side of the cliff. I already thought it was a bit strange, but from then on I was uncomfortable.
That was by far the most dangerous spot that I noticed, and I was fine after a few minutes of being near it, but just thinking about how easily a simple accident could happen there. Ugh. So freaking scary.
It was pretty foggy most of the time we were at the top, but it cleared up right before we came down. We walked by the Moorish Castle on the way down. We didn’t go in but I can’t believe it was constructed in the 8th Century AD, possibly around 711.
Instead of taking the cable car, we ended up walking down the rock to the base. This is when I wish we would have done a little research as we didn’t know where we were, where to go, and where we should eat.
Once we got down from the top, prior to finding the main shopping and restaurant district, I sort of felt very strange. We were just walking around the neighborhoods trying to find a strip of restaurants but it felt so rundown. Once we finally found the main strip I felt much better. It was nice, lots of people were there. Tons of shops and restaurants.
Gibraltar is crowded — not a lot of open spaces as most of the buildings are squished together at the base of the rock. 2.6 square miles just isn’t that much space for 30,000+ people and tourists! It’s so tiny but has a strong economy, is a tax exile, and has a strong gaming industry.
When I travel I only like to eat at recommended places so the fact that I didn’t have a list of recommended places to eat was bothersome. I hate spending money and travel time on a crappy food experience, but we asked a lady in a book shop and she told us to eat fish and chips from Roy’s. So we did. It was pretty good and it was located in the lovely Casemate Square. I highly recommend walking through and eating somewhere in this square.
View of Gibraltar from the top of the Rock of Gibraltar with a little fog.
View from the top of the Rock of Gibraltar once the fog mostly cleared.
Overall, I felt like Gibraltar wasn’t necessarily worth a full day of our trip. One thing I wish we would have done had we researched it more is go into St. Michael’s Cave. The photos look amazing. So maybe going in the cave, having a more clear weather day when we were at the top of the rock, and if we had done a little more research for where we should have gone and eaten would have made me like Gibraltar more.
The view from the top was cool, but I don’t know that I feel the need to ever go there again. I think if it’s a day stop on a cruise, or just a half day trip to hike up the rock and see the view, that would be plenty — but if I had to do it over again I’d make sure it was a clear day, I’d go really early, and try to get back to Spain in the early afternoon.
Maybe some of you have been there and had a great time? If so, where did you go? What did you see? Where did you eat? Share with me in the comments!
Photos by Meg Biram