It might be a small city on a small mountain jutting up out of the Mediterranean Sea at the southern tip of Spain…but Gibraltar packs a huge number of unusual things to do into a compact space!
Having lived here for quite a few years now, I can honestly say, it’s hard to get bored! Whether you’re a family with young children or teenagers, or you have retired to Gibraltar to enjoy the mild weather and relaxed lifestyle, or whether you are a young professional or entrepreneur thirsting to live life to the full: there is so much to do and so many places to go in Gibraltar. There are many attractions here, and something to suit every taste: shopping, sight-seeing, beaches, sports, art, drama, film, botanic gardens, caves.
Fun things to do in Gibraltar
For all my friends from all over the world who are wondering whether it’s time to come and join me on this iconic Rock, here are my suggestions for the best things to do in Gibraltar, and perhaps some of the more unusual:
🔦 Going Underground
Okay, the sun might be bright and shining most days, but if the rainy weather catches you out, then perhaps a tour of Gibraltar’s world-famous caves, caverns, tunnels and underground galleries might grab your attention. Actually, they are fascinating, and St Michael’s Cave in particular, is absolutely breathtaking and one of Gibraltar’s points of interest that has captured imaginations across the world.
🏖️ Stand Up Paddle
Some people like to take a taxi tour around the Rock, some like to go up in the Cable Car, some like to walk. I like all three, but recently I’ve taken up Stand Up Paddle (or SUP for short). It’s great and one of those fun things to do in Gibraltar that often takes people by surprise. You can SUP around the calm waters of the pretty beach at Sandy Bay, but it’s much more fun to train up and paddle to the south, right round the tip of the Rock, and explore Gibraltar from the sea. It’s so impressive! And it’s a great physical work out.
⛰️ Climb the Mediterranean Steps
Well, this might be a bit of a challenge when you first attempt it, but the views are absolutely breathtaking. The Steps are carved into the Rock itself and twist from west to east and round the southern tip over the Gorham’s Cave Complex and Gibraltar’s World Heritage Site. The steps take you high out of the town, away from the bustle and noise and up through the pines and the wild olives and right to the top of the Rock, where you can look out over the Straits and to the mountains of North Africa. It’s stunning and one of my favourites, free things to do in Gibraltar.
🛍️ Go shopping
So, I admit, that’s not free, but it’s fun! Main Street in Gibraltar boasts some great shops, designer fashion, high end jewellery, top make up brands, sports and footwear shops and top electronics shops. Because Gibraltar has no VAT, prices are really competitive, and service is really great. Besides the actual shops, Main Street and its surroundings like Casemates Square and Irish Town, is studded with bars, cafes and restaurants, so it’s a great place to visit in Gibraltar. Saturday morning strolls through Gibraltar’s Main Street is almost always busy and fun, with events, parades, charity functions and just loads of friends strolling along too – you’re never short of someone to chat to here!
📸 Go sightseeing
Gibraltar must have some of the best scenery for sightseeing in Europe. It’s spectacular, especially from the top of the Rock, so it stands to reason that if you’re a keen photographer, you’re going to take a stroll around the Rock. But it’s not just about the Nature Reserve or the Upper Rock or the caves. Gibraltar has some really interesting areas, such as the Old Town, the Castle, Europa Point and the Lighthouse and some of those beaches and coves around its coast.
And I guess, if you like night life and clubbing then Ocean Village will be one of the best places to visit in Gibraltar.
These are some of my top, fun things to do in Gibraltar, but what about Gibraltar’s tourist attractions?
The Gibraltar Top Attractions
Gibraltar attracts scores of tourists all year round, and these flock to Gibraltar’s attractions. I guess the must see attractions have got to be some of Gibraltar’s historic sites, like Moorish Castle, O’Hara’s Battery (which is right at the top of the Rock with magnificent views) and Gibrlatar’s iconic lighthouse at Europa Point.
Gibraltar’s tourist attractions are readily accessible through a wide choice of tour buses or taxi tours as well as the Cable Car ride to the top of the Rock which also gives access to the many footpaths criss-crossing the Upper Rock Nature Reserve and leading to the Galleries and the World War II
Tunnels. There’s also a really handy map of Gibraltar attractions and tourist sites which can be obtained from the Tourist Office and the Heritage Trust shop in town and also can be purchased from various vending machines throughout the City Centre.
It would be hard to pin down my favourite Gibraltar attraction, or even my favourite sightseeing attractions, but if I really try hard, I can probably name at least the best ones:
My Top 10 Gibraltar Attractions:
- St Michael’s Cave Top of the Rock of Gibraltar
- Europa Point, Lighthouse and Mosque
- World War II Tunnels
- Catalan Bay
- The Botanic Gardens at Alameda
- Gorham’s Cave Complex and the Mediterranean Steps
- The Gibraltar Museum
- The Moorish Castle
- The Great Siege Tunnels
The best things to see in Gibraltar
As I said earlier, for such a small place there are certainly loads of interesting places and unusual things to see here in Gibraltar. And because there are often so many things to do, or events to take part it, that if you were to live here, you would rarely want for something to keep you busy. Here is just a small selection of some of the places I like to spend time in, and places I go back to time and again because they are just so beautiful or so interesting, or just plain unusual.
▶️ Gibraltar’s Beaches ⛱️
These are small but each of them is different and unusual in their own way. Sandy Bay is quiet and pretty, curved into a natural bay on the steep, Eastern side of the Rock. It’s a place favoured by people learning to surf, or to stand up paddle and even in winter, it’s lovely for a beach picnic. Then there’s Catalan Bay, a picturesque cluster of homes and a tiny old church in what used to be a fishing village. Eastern Beach – where I do like to stretch out and go for a run sometimes – is a spread of sand bordered at its northern end by the runway: so you can go for a swim and watch the planes land – it’s unique! On the Western side there’s Camp Bay, busy, rocky, with a great beach bar, a swimming pool and a wonderful place for refreshing yourself on a hot afternoon. The scenery from here is stunning!
▶️ Europa Point 🌅
This is the most southern tip of Gibraltar and looks straight across the sea towards north Africa. You can see the face of a huge mountain called Jebel Musa from here, and on a clear day, you can make out the city of Ceuta across the opposite side of the Strait. At Europa Road you’ll find the University – a modern facility set within a historic military installation and with a great restaurant – the lighthouse and also the stunning Mosque. Europa Point is flat and open and breathtaking and makes for a lovely walk or an entry point to the Upper Rock.
▶️ The Upper Rock Nature Reserve 🏞️
Whether you get into the Upper Rock on foot – which can be a fascinating walk especially if you take the route through the Old Town and peer into the nooks and crannies of some lovely old buildings like the Sacred Heart Church – or you drive, or take one of the taxi tours, the Upper Rock is stunning.
Footpaths between wild olive trees, the infamous Barbary Macaques wild up the Rock, the birds (Gibraltar is on a migratory path), the caves – and thankfully the occasional picnic site for a rest!
There’s also this interesting little exhibition called “City Under Siege” which I would highly recommend – it gives some really interesting information about what life in Gibraltar was like during the Great Siege. You’ll also find the Windsor Suspension Bridge – challenge yourself to cross this, which reaches out high above the city!
▶️ Dolphin watching 🐬
This is great! There are daily boat trips out to sea around Gibraltar, where you are bound to see dolphins, sometimes whales, possibly sea turtles…The Bay of Gibraltar and the Strait of Gibraltar are full of fascinating marine life and the trips are interesting. Once you’ve been out on the boat once, you’re going to want to go again!
The best places to Visit in Gibraltar
I am one of those lucky people who moved to live and work in Gibraltar and have family and many friends both here and abroad – all over the world in fact. When they ask me what interesting places there are to visit in Gibraltar, they know they’ll end up on the phone to me for hours! So, for them, and for all of you who are thinking of visiting this wonderful Rock, here is a small sample of the best places to visit in Gibraltar:
- Main Street: A bustling thoroughfare lined with a range of shops, set in historic buildings: VAT-free shopping, high end fashion, beautiful designer jewellery and the latest in electronics – oh, and a couple of the best pastry shops with local delicacies! Bars and café’s, a couple of squares, two historic Cathedrals, an ancient monastery now converted to the official residence of the Governor, Main Street has everything!
- Irish Town: A smaller shopping thoroughfare just behind Main Street, Irish Town has its own unique character, with shops, offices, café’s, English style pub/restaurants and a superb vintner. And one of my favourite coffee shops – check it out!
- Ocean Village: Set by the sea at Waterport and not far from the centre of town, Ocean Village is a wonderful place to live, work and to enjoy the night life – and day life! Besides the luxury apartments, there are shops and beauty spas, a gym and health suite, and countless restaurants all lining a gorgeous, luxurious marina. It’s renowned for night life with live music in various venues, night clubs and a super casino. You just couldn’t ask for more on a balmy Mediterranean evening!
- Great Siege Tunnels: I’ve mentioned these already and along with the World War II tunnels, these bring a fascinating insight into life in Gibraltar during the British occupation and the many attempts of Spain to conquer Gibraltar by force. There were miles of tunnels dug into the Rock during the Napoleonic Wars and then again during the Second World War and learning about Gibraltar’s history from the inside out is fascinating.
- The Gibraltar Museum: This is actually set in a historic building itself which once housed the Moorish baths during the Middle Ages, and you can see the baths as they form part of the exhibit. My favourite, and what I think most interesting about the museum, is the Neanderthal exhibition, showing Gibraltar’s really ancient history. It’s a must for a visit to Gibraltar. And if you live here, you can visit time and again and you’ll always find something different to see.
- The Convent: This is a lovely old building which was once a convent (hence the name) and was turned into the official residence of the Governor of Gibraltar. It has a military guard at its main doors and tourists love to watch the changing of the guard. But the best is inside. There a numerous events and occasional tours of the Convent, so it’s really worthwhile a visit, and in particular, the splendid gardens.
- St Michael’s Cave: This is a natural cave with some of the most stunning formations of stalagmites and stalactites in the world. Not only is it beautiful to explore for itself but part of it forms a natural auditorium and is used to host concerts. Below St Michael’s Cave, there is another cavern that can be reached by abseiling – and for the adventurous, visits here can be arranged!
- Moorish Castle: Nowadays it’s a tall, medieval tower, the Tower of Homage, which looks out towards Spain at the Northern end of Gibraltar, and towers over the Old Town which sits within the castle walls. It’s a fascinating place to visit and until some ten years or so ago, its lower quarters used to house Gibraltar’s prison. The views from the battlements are incredible too!
- Skywalk: This is one of Gibraltar’s most recent attractions and you have to have a good head for heights! It’s a glass walkway right at the top of the Rock, jutting out to sea, so you are literally walking on the air and can see the Rock and its coastline stretching out hundreds of metres under your feet. It’s pretty exhilarating and the photo opportunities from there are stunning!
Hotels to stay when you travel to Gibraltar for sightseeing
- Sunborn ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ : A luxury super-yacht hotel, situated in the Ocean Village Marina a wonderful place to see the views and enjoy the nights. This hotel along with an outdoor infinity pool, some good restaurants and outside terraces and a full-service spa.
- Caleta ⭐⭐⭐⭐ : A four-star hotel with gorgeous views to Africa and the Rock. Just on the beach and with promising unmissable sunset. The biggest hotel in Gibraltar with a great service.
- The Eliott ⭐⭐⭐⭐ : A modern hotel in the heart of Gibraltar. Close to the Main Street, all the shops, restaurants, bars and tourist attractions. With two restaurants, a fitness center, a rooftop pool with a lounge terrace, which is always a good option.
- The Rock Hotel ⭐⭐⭐⭐ : Choice of the rich and famous along with Sir Winston Churchill, Errol Flynn, Alec Guinness and Sean Connery, John Lennon and Yoko Ono have stayed here. Build since 1932, it’s a big part of Gibraltar history.
There are so many things to see and so many interesting attractions in Gibraltar. These I’ve written about in this post are only a sample – there is more, but you need to come out here and find out for yourself! With daily flights from UK airports, you can come to Gibraltar from anywhere in the world. So…what are you waiting for?