Welcome to Gibraltar, a tiny place with a big personality. It's like a mix of British and Spanish cultures, monkeys and a lot of history, all squeezed onto a rocky spot. You'll meet funny monkeys called Barbary macaques and see amazing views from the tall Rock. Even though Gibraltar is small, it's full of exciting things to discover. In this blog post, we have listed our 6 favorite things to do in this tiny piece of UK.
Gibraltar is a tiny British Overseas Territory located at the southern tip of Spain, at the entrance of the Mediterranean Sea. The total territory of Gibraltar is only about 6.7 square kilometers (2.6 square miles) and with only around 30,000 residents, the population is relatively small.
It has been inhabited for thousands of years and it came under British control in 1704 during the War of the Spanish Succession. It has remained under British sovereignty since then. For many years, this sovereignty has been a source of tension between Spain and the United Kingdom and Spain has made various (unsuccessful) attempts to regain control.
Gibraltar is also home to a unique population of Barbary macaques, also known as “Barbary apes”. These monkeys are the only wild primate population in Europe and are a popular tourist attraction. The most notable thing on Gibraltar is for sure the Rock of Gibraltar, a limestone ridge that rises to around 426 meters above sea level. You can stroll around the city of Gibraltar or you can explore the Rock of Gibraltar, also called Upper Rock Nature Reserve.
English is the official language in Gibraltar, but most of the Gibraltarians speak Spanish as well. The culture is a blend of British, Spanish, and other influences, and they celebrate various festivals and holidays from different traditions. This tiny piece of UK has its own government with a Chief Minister and a Parliament. However, the United Kingdom is responsible for defense and foreign affairs.
All the things to do listed below are located in the Upper Rock Nature Reserve. To enter this reserve, you have to pay an entrance fee. The entrance to all sites is included in the entrance fee.
Children (11-5): £12
You can either walk up the rock, or you can take the cable car.
Cable Car return + nature reserve:
Children (5-11): £21
Senior (+65) & students: £35
Cable Car Return
Children (5-11): £9
Senior (+65) & students: £17
9.30am - 6.15pm
(last entry: 5.45pm)
Summer season (April 1st to September 30th)
9.30am - 7.45pm (last return)
Winter season (October 1st to March 31st)
9.30am- 5.45pm (last return)
Windsor Suspension Bridge
The Windsor Suspension bridge is a 71 meter long bridge, hanging over a 50 meter deep gorge. It is suspended between two batteries and it is part of the Anglian Way, one of many trails in the Upper Rock Nature Reserve. It is a must visit attraction for adventure seekers and it will reward you with some spectacular views.
St Michael's Cave
One of Gibraltar’s most famous natural sites is the St. Michael’s Caves. It’s a limestone cave with a rich history and it is known for its stunning formations and unique ambiance. It features a large network of limestone caves and tunnels, formed by the process of water erosion over millions of years, and many beautiful stalactites and stalagmites.
Throughout its history, the cave has been used for various purposes. It is said to have been used as a place of worship by the ancient Romans. During World War II, it served as an air-raid shelter and military hospital due to its size and natural protection. It has also been used as a venue for concerts and cultural events due to its impressive acoustics and unique setting.
Now, the cave is equipped with lighting, showcasing its natural beauty and the intricate formations in different colors. You can either visit the cave on your own or you can join a guided tour and learn about its history, geology, and cultural significance.
The Mediterranean Steps is a popular hiking trail in Gibraltar. It winds its way up the eastern cliffs of the rock, offering an adventurous climb with numerous steps, rocky paths, and occasional handrails. As you ascend the steps, you get some breathtaking views of the Strait of Gibraltar, the Mediterranean Sea, and the coastlines of Spain and Morocco in the distance. It is considered a moderately challenging trail due to its steep and uneven terrain. Be prepared for a strenuous climb that requires a reasonable level of fitness. We recommend you to wear proper hiking shoes and bring plenty of water and snacks. Also, make sure to always check the weather conditions before starting the hike, as the trail can be quite exposed to the elements.
Along the trail, you may come across historical sites and remnants from Gibraltar’s military history. Some areas have old fortifications and gun emplacements that were used during various periods of conflict.
The trail starts from the Queen’s Gate entrance and can take a few hours to complete, depending on your pace and how many stops you make to enjoy the views. It is also possible to just go and check out a part of the trail.
Great Siege Tunnels
A fascinating historical and military landmark in Gibraltar are the Great Siege Tunnels. These tunnels are a network of underground passages and chambers that were carved into the limestone rock of Gibraltar during the late 18th century.
The tunnels were created as a defensive measure during the Great Siege of Gibraltar, which took place from 1779 to 1783. It was a major conflict during the American Revolutionary War and the Anglo-French War. The British-controlled Gibraltar was ‘besieged’ or surrounded by Spanish and French forces in an attempt to capture the territory from the British. The tunnels were used as shelter from enemy fire and allowed the British forces to move troops and supplies without being exposed to the enemy’s artillery. The tunnels also housed various facilities, including gun emplacements and barracks.
Today, you can explore sections of the tunnels that have been preserved and restored. It is the perfect place to learn more about an important chapter in Gibraltar’s history.
Meet the Monkeys
Gibraltar is home to a small population of monkeys. These monkeys are actually Barbary macaques (Macaca sylvanus), also known as Barbary apes, which are a species of Old World monkeys. They are the only wild primates and the only free-living population of this species in Europe. The Gibraltar population is estimated to be around 200 individuals. They are a well-known and iconic part of Gibraltar.
There are various legends and stories about why these monkeys live here. One popular legend claims that as long as the monkeys remain on Gibraltar, the British will also remain in control of the territory.
On the Upper Rock area, you can see and interact with the monkeys. There are also several feeding places, such as Apes Den, where you will find many of them. However, it’s important to note that while they may seem friendly, they are still wild animals and should be treated with caution and respect. Always keep a safe distance, don’t touch the monkeys and never feed them as it can lead to health problems for the animals and behavioral issues. Additionally, feeding them can encourage them to approach humans in search of food, which might increase the risk of accidents.
The Skywalk of Gibraltar is located at the Upper Rock Nature Reserve near the summit of the Rock of Gibraltar and offers a stunning panoramic view of the surrounding. It is a glass platform that extends from the edge of the rock, giving you the sensation of floating in the air above the cliffs. Because of the glass floor, you get a unique perspective of the landscape. The views are amazing, but it might not be the ideal place for people with fear of heights.
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