Gibraltar is a rocking place, pun intended. It’s a mini-country twinned with the Northern Irish town of Ballymena, so it has to be worth a visit in my books. Plus it is now a recognised football country by UEFA so I get to add it to my growing list of national football stadiums visited. For my posts on Gibraltar, I felt that I had to split it into sections based on what part of Gibraltar they are in. I expected Gibraltar to be tiny, boring and with not a lot to see. Boy was I wrong! I was completely wrong. This is a wonderful mini country right here on a peninsula which borders Spain and remains British.
I got a bus from Malaga to La Linea, then I crossed the border by foot from La Linea de la Concepcion. I stayed in the family run Cannon Hotel and loved it. I toured the country extensively over 2 days, walking all around the country right up to Europa Point, to the top of the rock and all over the city centre. I headed to the top of the Rock to check out Gibraltar from its peak. For a country this size, the range of things to see and do is unrivalled by anywhere else this size that I have ever been. It’s a weird and wacky place and I love it!
Getting to the Top of the Rock
OK so you have three main options for getting to the Top of the Rock in Gibraltar:
1. Walk it yourself (there are many paths up – just keep heading up) – Free
2. Drive/get a bus tour up there – Costs vary but probably avoid this option
3. Get the Cable Car up (412 metres up in just 6 minutes) – Costs £8.50 and an extra £1 if you want to make use of free WiFi and a mobile guide.
I chose to go up on the Cable Car and then walk back down. When you get to the top here are the top 10 things to check out, either at the top or on your walk back down. For a small country there is an abundance of things to see.
Once you get to the top, I’d recommend these things on your walk back down.
1. Gibraltarian Monkeys
One of the main attractions in Gibraltar is actually the monkeys! They can be quite vicious and they are very clever so don’t carry around bottles of water, crisps, sandwiches etc.!
The monkeys are officially Barbary macaques and there are rumoured to be 300 of them in and around the rocks. Sometimes they even come down to the city centre!
2. Cafe for a Gibraltar Beer
Gibraltar Beer can be hard to find, but the cafe at the top of the Rock has it. I’ll admit that £4 is expensive but you know me – my luxuries are spent on experiences I can’t ever have again so to try my first ever Gibraltarian beer at the top of the rock with such fabulous views and relaxation was worth it for me.
Views are tremendous and this beer ain’t a bad drop for sure. Worth the £4 for the experience of it, seriously.
3. St. Michael’s Cave
On the way back down, stop off to check out the awesome limestone caves at St. Michael’s Cave. Entry is dear at £10 but again, you may not be back.
4. Moorish Castle
There are lots of walls, castles and strongholds here in Gibraltar. Moorish Castle also charges entry sadly so on a cheap backpacking budget you can’t actually manage to do all ten of these, so I skipped going inside.
There are cannons pointing on the walls as well as the old prison. If I go back I’ll probably blow the budget and go inside. But it’s £10, so if you add that to my beer, the cable car and St. Michael’s Cave, my daily budget is almost gone! You can also pay £1 just to go to the steps by the way, but I didn’t bother.
5. O’Hara’s Battery
O’Hara’s battery is a cannon which was last fired in 1976. It was also used in World War 2. It is an an artillery battery and is located at the highest point of the Rock, near the southern end of the Upper Rock Nature Reserve.
It was constructed in 1890 and named after Charles O’Hara, Governor of Gibraltar. Thankfully entry is free, but it’s not always open. Views from the top are amazing.
6. Queen Elizabeth’s Lookout
The Queen was here herself in Gibraltar and being a proud British overseas territory, this lookout point is named after her.
Prince Philip was also here by the way and it was in May 1954. I was there in April 2015, almost 51 years later.
7. Great Siege Tunnels
For many the Great Siege Tunnels is the highlight. It reminded me of my time touring Guernsey and Jersey when I worked on the Ferries. Gibraltar was an important stronghold in what was to be the 14th and final siege of the land here. The Great Siege was a failed attempt by the French and the Spanish to capture Gibraltar from the British during the American Revolutionary War.
These tunnels were dug out from the solid limestone by the British during the Great Siege of Gibraltar at the end of the 18th century. Entry is also £10 by the way.
You also get magnificent views into Spain and you can see how clear the border is – the airport runway, the airport and then it’s Spain.
8. Military Heritage Centre
You can tell that there is a lot of war history here with Gibraltar. The Military Heritage Centre is housed in one of the many batteries found in the Rock of Gibraltar. The battery still houses the original hoists used to arm the gun, as well as the shells and other artefacts used in those days. The armoury displays a selection of weapons used by the British Army in Gibraltar and there are also relics dating from the Great Siege of 1779 to the present day.
9. Flag Corner
There is a corner just past the Siege Tunnels that has the UK Union Flag, the EU flag and the Gibraltar flag together. Locals are proud of their flag here.
10. Comedy Signs
British people are hilarious and Gibraltar is literally a chip off the old block. All the way up and down on your walk are these signs telling you to beware of certain animals and insects. Yes, I laughed at the idea of dodging butterflies and crickets
If you have read this, you will know that realistically all of these sights will cost you about £50, which is a lot for the day before you’ve paid accommodation and food. Some local companies do offer tours with discount, but choose wisely. So you’ve now read about my top sights at Europa Point and at the top of the Rock. I’ll cover downtown Gibraltar Town sometime too. Gibraltar really really surprised me – it’s a brilliant location to tour and one not to be missed if you are in the Costa del Sol.
Here are some videos from the top of the Rock while backpacking in Gibraltar: