How to Spend 24 Hours in Gibraltar
Getting to Gibraltar
Starting our Andalusia journey, we flew from Edinburgh to Malaga in Spain. With an initial plan of hiring a car at the airport and driving around Andalusia, we couldn’t resist exploring Gibraltar, an overseas British territory bordering Spain.
Driving to Gibraltar from Malaga will take you around two hours without stopping. As our plan was to explore all the main points of Andalusia, we stopped for our first night in the hilltop town of Ronda before moving on. If you plan on leaving from Ronda like we did, you can expect the drive to take you around one and a half hours.
Alternatively, if you’re flying from the UK, flights to Gibraltar are relatively frequent with several flights landing per day from major UK airports. On one of the world’s most famous runway landings, it also doubles up as the main road into the city, so if you are driving into Gibraltar, prepare to wait for a plane to take off in front of your eyes!
The queues for driving across the Spanish border from La Línea de la Concepción into Gibraltar can vary daily. It took us less than 45 minutes to cross, however it’s most busy at peak times for those who commute for work over the Spanish border. Weekends can also be particularly busy. Be prepared to wait in long queues and if you’re a British national, make sure you have your passport at the ready.
Attractions in Gibraltar
Gibraltar has a huge amount of history behind it, so there’s countless of opportunities for places to explore. Although we spent less than 24 hours in Gibraltar, we still managed to squeeze lots in. Make sure you have comfortable shoes for walking, Gibraltar is incredibly steep, as you might expect from somewhere built on the side of a giant rock...
The Rock of Gibraltar
You can see the Rock of Gibraltar from miles away, so it’s no surprise it’s so high on the list of attractions. It’s hard to describe the utter scale of the Rock without you going to see it for yourself, which is exactly why you should! You can get a cable car up to the top of the Rock which runs regularly throughout the day and takes around ten minutes, offering amazing views on your way up to the top.
The views from the top of the Rock are incredible, especially on a clear day. It can get particularly windy up here so check the cable cars are running before starting your journey. The cable car station offers various tickets, but we found it best value to buy the combination tickets at £25 each (August 2018). This also allowed us admission into almost all of the attractions on the Rock and more.
As you reach the top of the rock, the first point of call you get to is the Apes Den. It’s here you’ll find the vast majority of Gibraltar’s famous monkeys. They’re fairly tame around humans due to their constant interaction living side by side, however please be aware they are still wild animals. If you have any food on you or bottles they will attempt to take them from you. There are unfortunately several tour groups which offer to take your photograph with the monkeys by bribing them with food but this is illegal, as well as damaging to their natural habitat.
If you’re feeling brave, be sure to take a step out onto the Skywalk. Opened earlier in 2018, the Skywalk is a glass walkway that hangs over the edge of the Rock. It was incredibly windy when we went up here so needless to say, I didn’t stay standing on the glass for long! Just beyond the Skywalk platform is a set of steps up to the highest point on the Rock, offering incredible views across Gibraltar and beyond.
St. Michaels Cave
One of our favourite experiences on the Rock and perhaps the most unexpected, St. Michael's Cave is a real treasure to behold. The sea-cave formations inside are incredible and it’s a wonderful way to escape the heat for a while. Inside there’s various music playing in time to different colours lighting which provides an amazing effect inside the cave.
Across the road from where we stayed at The Rock hotel, Gibraltars Botanical Gardens are a lovely spot to escape into the jungle surroundings and beautiful flowers. The gardens are free to enter however there is also a nature reserve you can pay to enter here which is home to tropical birds on Gibraltar.
If you’ve got the time (and stamina!) for a hike, the Mediterranean steps are well worth the venture. Originally built as part of the British military communications system, these paths are now open to the public. The paths offer views over the Strait of Gibraltar, Europa Point and the Mediterranean sea.
Europa Point is the southernmost point of Gibraltar. Marked by a lighthouse, on a clear day you can look over to North Africa. There’s also a beach that lines the coastal area here, perfect for escaping to for some sunbathing on a summer's day.
Nightlife in Gibraltar
Gibraltar may only be small, but on a Saturday night you’ll find all the residents of Gibraltar enjoying the nightlife down at Marina Bay. It’s lined with bars and restaurants all with outdoor seating, perfect for enjoying the last of the days sunshine before watching the sunset.
Casemates Square is another thriving local destination perfect for nightlife if you’re looking for something a little more upbeat. It’s here you’ll find several bars that turn into clubs in the evening, often staying open up until 4am in some case
If you’re looking for somewhere quieter offering local cuisine and a more relaxing dining experience, head into the main town area and check out any of the restaurants located off the main street.
Where to stay in Gibraltar
The Sunborn, Ocean Village, 35 Marina Bay Square, GX11 1AA
For luxury on the sea, be sure to stay at The Sunborn. After all, what other chance are you going to get to live out that superyacht fantasy? It’s moored in the beautiful Ocean Village overlooking Marina Bay, with marble interiors, chandeliers and an infinity pool, it ticks all the luxury hotel boxes.
The Rock Hotel, 3 Europa Road, Gibraltar GX11 1AA
We chose to stay at The Rock Hotel, one of the most historic hotels in Gibraltar. With some of the world’s most famous guests staying since 1932, including Sir Winston Churchill, these walls have a lot of stories to tell. It’s one of the best vantage points in Gibraltar and only a five minute walk to the cable cars departure to go up the rock of Gibraltar. The hotel also has its own private pool a short distance across the road, in its own oasis by the Botanical Gardens.
Bristol Hotel, 8-10 Cathedral Square, Gibraltar GX11 1AA
If you’re working to a budget, as Gibraltar’s oldest hotel, the Bristol Hotel is in a great location on Cathedral Square, just a short walk from access to all the main attractions. During World War II, it even served as the headquarters of the Royal Air Force. Not something every hotel can claim to!