Gibraltar – A Day in Britain on the Med

Whilst on a touring holiday in Andalusia, I decided to take a day out to venture over the border into Gibraltar. I was not quite sure what to expect.

Gibraltar Town from Cable Car Top Station
Gibraltar Town from Cable Car Top Station

The UK Channel 5 television series Gibraltar: Britain in the Sun had given me the impression that Gibraltar was a bit like an extension to the Costa del Sol, but with the British running the show and a few apes thrown in to add interest.

I was also concerned that I would be kept waiting for hours and hours at the border.

In reality, I spent a very enjoyable day in Gibraltar and can recommend the experience, particularly for senior travellers.

Crossing the Border

The advice I’d received from several sources was to leave my hire car at the border in Spain and cross on foot. I found that to be sound advice. There were long queues of cars waiting to cross the border.

However having left the car in the underground car park in Plaza Constitución in La Linea, accessed from the Av. Del Ejército, it was just a short walk across the border with a cursory glance at our passports. Parking cost €18 for the day.

Just before crossing the border, I bought single tickets for the Cable Car at €11.90 for an adult and received free bus tickets to the Cable Car Station. Bus 5 goes from the border across the airport runway to the City Centre and then Bus 2 stops close by the Cable Car Station.

My Highlights of Gibraltar

• The Cable Car is a good place to start a visit to Gibraltar. At this time of year there was no queue, so within 6 minutes I had travelled up 1,350 ft to the Top Station. There are great views over Gibraltar and across to Algeciras, with Morocco visible through the mist to the south.

Gibraltar Nature Reserve – After some refreshments at the Top Station and having checked out the views from the various terraces, I headed off down through the Nature Reserve with its 300 semi-wild Barbary macaques, commonly referred to as apes.

Barbary Macaque
Barbary Macaque

You are warned not to feed them and to be careful to keep your possessions out of their reach. I found them to be fairly docile and friendly and quite happy to pose for photos.

Don’t miss out on seeing some of the more than 600 varieties of flowering plant within the Reserve as you pass by.

A heavy rainstorm could be seen moving over from Algeciras, so I missed out on St Michael’s Cave, and reached Main Street in about 30 minutes of steady downhill walking, passing by Trafalgar Cemetery and the City Gates.

Governor's House and the Angry Friar Pub
Governor’s House and the Angry Friar Pub

• The Angry Friar pub on Main Street proved a good stopping point to shelter from the storm and enjoy a pint of London Pride Ale and a Steak & Guinness Pudding.

The Angry Friar has received mixed reviews on TripAdviser, but I found it to have a friendly atmosphere and my wife said the pudding was excellent! It’s also a good place to watch the changing of the guard in front of the Governor’s House.

•  Main Street is, not surprisingly, the main street in Gibraltar and runs almost the full length of the town. It is lined with low cost alcohol and cigarette shops, intermingled with some high class designer shops. The northern end of Main Street opens into Casement Square, resplendent in late November with its Christmas lights.

Europa Point Lighthouse
Europa Point Lighthouse and Morocco

•  The Alameda Botanic Gardens cover about 15 acres close by the Cable Car Station. I found these quiet, well-tended gardens to be a great antidote to Main Street.

•  Europa Point at the most southerly tip of Gibraltar gives views across to the Rif Mountains in Morocco and views back towards the rocky backbone of Gibraltar.

I’d expected to see a lighthouse there, and indeed there is a small one, but had not expected the imposing Mosque of Two Holy Custodians, built in 1997 as a gift from King Fahd of Saudi Arabia.

Gibraltar for Senior Travellers

Gibraltar is only about 2.3 sq miles in size, so provided you are a reasonably nimble senior traveller, you can walk the full length of Main Street with no great difficulty.

Mosque of the Two Custodians at Europa Point
Mosque of Two Holy Custodians at Europa Point

To make the most of the Rock itself, I would advise travelling by the Cable Car up to the Top Station and then taking a leisurely stroll back down through the Reserve.

Use Bus 2 to get to Europa Point. All the buses, with the exception of the border Bus 5, seem to be free of charge for those 60+, but you’ll need to show some ID.