The Rock of Gibraltar dominates this tiny British colony at the tip of the Iberian Peninsula. To the ancient Greeks and Romans, Gibraltar was one of the Pillars of Hercules, the promontories that mark the edge of the world. Ownership of the Rock has been contentious since the Treaty of Utrecht granted it to Britain in 1713. Despite attempts by Spain, Gibraltar has happily remained British, all 6sq km (2.5sq mi), 30,000 subjects, and, famously, the only wild monkeys found in Europe.
At the Governor's residence the guard changes several times a day. Main Street offers a chance to snap up VAT-free bargains (in Sterling naturally) and admire the British Regency-style buildings.
As for the Rock, taking a cable car to the top offers spectacular views of the Strait of Gibraltar to the south, the city of Gibraltar and the Bay of Algeciras to the west, Spain to the north and the Mediterranean and Costa del Sol to the east.
Now that flights from Spain can land at the airport, cheap flights to Gibraltar have become more plentiful. Another option is to find cheap flights to Malaga and catch a bus from there to the border town of La Línea.
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Gibraltar has a pleasant Mediterranean climate, with mild winters and warm summers. Temperatures range between 16 and 32 degrees.
When to fly to Gibraltar
For the beaches and good weather, summer is the peak season, roughly from June to September.
The winters are low season, though the temperature remains mild.
Getting around Gibraltar
Getting around isn’t much of a problem in a territory so small. You can walk it, or use a bus or car.
To get up the Rock itself, the quickest route is by cable car. You can also drive, or take one of the bus tours.
Gibraltar insider information
- From the top of the Rock of Gibraltar you can see Africa, Spain and Gibraltar itself. If you’ve got time, hiking up the rock is an enjoyable way to see the landscape on the way up, and the famous Barbary Apes.
- The Upper Galleries, or Siege Tunnels, are a series of tunnels in the Rock covering about 80km (nearly 50 miles). Dug by hand by the British during the 18th century, the tunnels were a means of carrying the guns onto the northern face of the Rock, in order to defend Gibraltar from Spanish or French attacks. Parts are open to tourists to explore.
- Of the six beaches on Gibraltar’s shoreline, four are sandy. One of the most popular is Catalan Bay, a former fishing village, but today a popular tourist resort. The cove surrounds the sandy beach, and there are a few pubs and restaurants here. It is one of the furthest out of town, so be prepared for a long(ish) walk or take a taxi.
- Dolphins swim in the waters around Gibraltar and can often be spotted from the shore. For a better chance, take a boat trip dolphin spotting. Three agencies currently offer trips – you can book at the tourist office.
- For shopping, or just passing time, take a walk down Main Street. This is the heart of the town and it feels very British (except for the weather).