A piece of the British culture barely 15 kilometres from Morocco and North Africa? You’ll find it in Gibraltar, a British Overseas Territory, meaning it is under the jurisdiction of the UK, but is actually a part of it. With only 6.8 square kilometres in size and with a population of about 30,000 people, Gibraltar has the 5th highest population density of any territory in the world, including sovereign countries. But what to visit in such rather “small” place? You’d be surprised how many attractions it has to offer, so without any further ado – let’s check out the 6 top things to do while staying in Gibraltar!
1) Explore St Michael’s Cave
One of the top attractions which are part of the Upper Rock Nature Reserve of Gibraltar tour is for sure Saint Michael’s Cave. The cave is a series of limestone caves and it was named after a similar site in Monte Gargano in Italy where the Archangel Michael has allegedly shown himself. Today, St Michael’s Cave serves as a venue for live concerts and fashion shows due to its largest chamber which has excellent acoustics and can host up to 400 people. The tour inside the caves lasts roughly around 3 hours and the entrance is included in the ticket for the Upper Rock Nature Reserve. The cave is opened for visitors from Monday to Sunday from 09:30 to 18:15.
2) Witness the only living monkeys in Europe
Monkeys in Europe? Sounds like the worst practical joke ever thought but it is actually true! Known as the Barbary Macaques, these monkeys were brought to Gibraltar during the period of the Moors who lived in this area between 6th and 15th century. The Gibraltar monkeys are believed to be used as pets, although there’s a school of thought which says the monkeys were in that area long before the Moors, up to 5 million years ago. The best time to spot them is in the early morning or late evening when the Rock is not too crowded, especially around St Michael’s Cave, Top Station of the Cable Car or toward Prince Phillip’s Arch. Be careful with approaching the monkeys too close or try petting them, as they might be defensive and can bite you if they feel frightened.
3) Ride the cable car
Only 6 minutes to reach the top of the Rock? Then it’s time to try the ride in the famous cable car! It’s the highlight of any visit to Gibraltar, not only because it gives amazing views of the entire area and the visitors get welcomed at the top by the famous Gibraltar monkeys! TIP: The visitors are usually recommended to buy the tickets online in order to avoid the long queues which can last up to one hour during the high season. Also, arriving early in the morning when it’s less crowded is definitely a safe bet.
4) Join dolphin watching excursion
Another rare animal that you don’t see every day is just a regular thing you get to witness in Gibraltar Bay. The visitors can join unique boat tour and witness up to 200 dolphins swimming in the Strait of Gibraltar. What to expect? First you board the boat in Marina Bay (make sure to bring your passport or ID) and after that just sit back, relax and enjoy the acrobatic “dance” of these adorable animals. The passengers on the boat will also get a live commentary about dolphins’ habitat in the Strait of Gibraltar from the captain and even observe the dolphins from a raised viewing platform. How cool is that!
5) Walk across the Gibraltar Skywalk and Suspension Bridge
Completed in 2018, Gibraltar Skywalk is, we could say, a relatively new attraction in Gibraltar Nature Reserve. It is set 340 meters above the Mediterranean Sea. The walkway is completely see-through and made out of 42 glass panels which could cover the surface equal to 4 tennis courts. This attraction is available to visitors as the part of the Reserve (admission included in the Reserve ticket) and it’s also great if you want to overcome your fear of heights 😉 A fun fact – the Skywalk was officially opened by the most famous Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill. With a lightsaber, of course!
6) Stroll through the Botanic Gardens
Covering the surface of six hectares, this nature gem is something you didn’t even know you needed. Also known as The Alameda, Gibraltar’s Botanical Gardens are an absolute hit among the tourists. Some of the plants grown here are said to be over 200 years old which means that the plants were actually planted even before the gardens were constructed! The gardens are well maintained and they surely leave every visitor speechless – a tranquil and peaceful spot definitely worth visiting.