Does the United Kingdom without much rain and full of sunshine all year long sound good to you? Is this even possible!? This may come as a surprise but YES! All that with pubs serving delicious fish & chips with a pint, iconic red telephone, and Royal Mail letter boxes, people talking in English! And you’ll get that true slice of the UK at the other end of Europe! If you like that vision, you should definitely check out Gibraltar, a beautiful British overseas territory. Stay with us and discover what to do in Gibraltar in one day.
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Gibraltar is located at the southwestern tip of Europe, on a small peninsula that shares a land frontier with the Andalusia region in Spain. It guards the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea from the Atlantic Ocean and overlooks one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. It sits right across Morocco, which is located only about 14km away at its narrowest point. Gibraltar covers an area of only 6.8 km².
Yes, Gibraltar is a British overseas territory.
Yes, there is a border control between Gibraltar and Spain. In order to cross it you need to hold a valid passport or a valid national identity card, in the case of EU citizens.
Gibraltar is definitely a destination worth visiting, especially if you love the United Kingdom and would like to see a little slice of it in the sun. If you miss or would like to try typical British food – this is also a perfect place! Need to stock up on a good tea? There is definitely no better place nearby!
Gibraltar is best known for the iconic Rock of Gibraltar which stands as a natural landmark at the entrance of the Mediterranean Sea. Rock is also famous for being inhabited by the only wild monkeys in Europe – Barbary macaques. The territory is also renowned for its historical significance and its strategic location because of which it was fought over for hundreds of years. What’s more, Gibraltar does not charge VAT, so many take advantage of this and buy various stuff at lower prices.
Gibraltar is a great destination for one-day trips from places like Cadiz, Tarifa, Marbella, or Malaga. A day will be enough to see the main attractions and taste some British food. If you want to know Gibraltar even better and immerse yourself in its vibe we recommend staying for at least 3 days. For many, it’s also a popular holiday destination.
English is the official Gibraltar language, but many also speak Spanish.
The Gibraltar pound is the official currency, but you can also pay with the British pound sterling. But watch out: Gibraltar pounds can’t be used in the United Kingdom so exchange them before leaving.
What To Do In Gibraltar In One Day
The first Gibraltar attraction is waiting for you right after the border control. Before you’ll see the main part of the city you’ll have to go through … the airport runway. If you wait a while or check the arrivals and departure times, you can watch planes from a very short distance, which is a very cool experience.
Interesting fact: Gibraltar airport has been voted one of the world’s scariest airports to land!
Only about a 15-minute walk from the Gibraltar airport, you’ll find Casemates Square, the largest public space in the town center. Until 1864 Casemates Square hosted public executions and some of the buildings around the square stored ammunition. Nowadays, you’ll find there many restaurants, bars, cafes, and of course traditional British pubs.
Gibraltar town center streets
One of the best things to do in Gibraltar is to slowly wander around its charming colorful streets and discover all its secrets. You definitely can’t miss exploring the two liveliest streets – Main Street and Irish Town, where you can find many stores, restaurants, bars, and pubs. Also, don’t forget to take a look at the adorable side alleys.
On Gibraltar Main Street you’ll also find the Cathedral of Saint Mary the Crowned. It was built on the site of a former mosque in the 15th century. The church can be visited for free during opening hours.
One of the best things to do in Gibraltar that you cannot miss is visiting Europa Point. It’s Gibraltar’s southernmost point that offers breathtaking views over the Strait of Gibraltar and the African coast, which is just 14km away. There you’ll also find points of interest like Ibrahim-al-Ibrahim Mosque, Shrine of Our Lady of Europe church, the 19th-century lighthouse, restored 1878 Harding’s Battery, and a monument to former Polish general Władysław Sikorski, who died in a plane crash near Gibraltar airport during WWII.
To get to Europa Point we took a long walk along a medium-known road, but with very rewarding views. Somewhere near the cable car, we turned towards the port and were walking near the shore, looking at the ocean. We passed places like 100 Ton Gun Napier of Magdala Battery, Parson’s Lodge, Juan Carlos Perez Promenade, beautiful Gibraltar waterfall, and finally, we reached Keightley Way Tunnel, which took us straight to Europa Point. To go back to the Gibraltar town center we chose Europa Road, which also surprised us with beautiful views, but this time from the higher points. Here’s the map and a few photos from the walk.
Ibrahim-al-Ibrahim Mosque is the southernmost mosque in mainland Europe and one of the largest mosques in a non-Muslim country. This whitewashed building was built between 1995 and 1997, for all the Moroccans working in Gibraltar. It was paid for by the late King Fahad Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia. It’s a really beautiful example of Muslim architecture, isn’t it?
Upper Rock Nature Reserve
Upper Rock Nature Reserve, also called Gibraltar Nature Reserve, is located on The Rock of Gibraltar at an altitude of 426m a.sl. It was established in 1993 to protect an area no longer used by the military. Its main purpose is to provide a habitat for wild animals and many bird species that stopover in the area while migrating between Africa and Europe. Reserve offers amazing views over Gibraltar, the Spanish coast, and Africa. Without a doubt, visiting Upper Rock Nature Reserve is one of the best things to do in Gibraltar in one day.
You can reach the top by cable car, by taxi tour from the town center, or by foot. A cable car trip takes 6 minutes and costs £19 for adults and £9 for children aged 5-11 (August 2023). Tickets can be bought online on buytickets.gi website.
Another £18 has to be paid for entering the Upper Rock Nature Reserve (£12 for children). Pass price includes entrance to:
Barbary macaques are definitely the main Gibraltar Nature Reserve attraction. These monkeys are native to Morocco and are the only monkeys living wild anywhere in Europe. Legend has it that if the apes ever leave Gibraltar, so will the British. Tip: watch your belongings as they like stealing things!
The total length of the entire WWII tunnel network is approximately 55km. Their main purpose was to house a 16,000-strong garrison along with enough food to last them for 16 months. One could say that there was a whole underground city there – with a telephone exchange, power generating station, bakery, hospital, water distillation plant, ammunition magazines and a vehicle maintenance workshop.
The Great Siege Tunnels
The Great Siege Tunnels is perhaps the most impressive defense system invented by man. It’s a series of tunnels inside the northern end of the Rock of Gibraltar, which was dug out from the solid limestone by the British during the Great Siege of Gibraltar of the late 18th century.
Remains of the Moorish Castle
The Moorish fortress was built in the 8th century and rebuilt in the 14th century after it was nearly destroyed when the Spanish re-conquered Gibraltar. The Tower of Homage is clearly visible to all visitors to Gibraltar due to its dominant and strategic position. It’s worth noting that the courtyard of the Moorish Castle served as a prison up until 2010.
St Michael’s Cave
St. Michael’s Cave lies at least 274 meters above sea level and is full of chambers and tunnels filled with stalactites and stalagmites. It was once believed that it ran under the Strait of Gibraltar, all the way to Africa. Cave was used for defensive purposes by the Moors and Spaniards, and during WWII it was prepared as an emergency hospital (but never used). Nowadays St. Michael’s Cave houses a 600-seat auditorium, perfect for concerts.
Windsor Suspension Bridge
Windsor Suspension Bridge is a great place for those seeking adrenaline, and definitely not for the faint-hearted. It was opened in 2016 as one of the newest additions in the Reserve. It’s 71m long and is hanging 50m above the ground.
Another attraction not for the faint-hearted. Skywalk is a glass platform located 340m a.s.l and offers unforgettable views over Gibraltar, Spain, and Morocco. Fun facts: it was opened in 2018 by Star Wars actor Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) and it can carry the weight of 5 elephants (or 340 people, standing on it at the same time).
O’Hara’s Battery is located at the highest point of the Rock of Gibraltar. It was constructed in 1890, used during WWII and last fired in 1976, during training exercises.
There are also a few more attractions included in the price (like City Under Siege Exhibition, Military Heritage Center, or Jew’s Gate and Jew’s Gate Cemetery) but those listed above are the most popular.
Although it’s named for the Battle of Trafalgar only two victims of this battle are buried there. Most tombstones belong to those who were killed in other sea battles and to the casualties of the yellow fever epidemics that hit Gibraltar between 1804-1814. Trafalgar Cemetery is located near the cable car ticket office.
Visit British Pub
Your visit to Gibraltar won’t be complete without eating fish & chips and drinking a pint in a traditional pub! We can recommend Lord Nelson on Casemates Square – a great place with a great vibe.
Buy British treats
We recommend you to go to the Morrisons supermarket and buy some classic and very tasty British products like original teas, beers, or some sweets from Cadbury Dairy Milk or Galaxy. If you’re traveling from Spain and are a tea lover, like we are, you know that Spain has a very poor tea selection so Gibraltar is the perfect place to stock up.
More things to do in Gibraltar in one day
Gibraltar National Museum
Gibraltar Museum is home to a wide array of unique collections and items portraying Gibraltar’s history, heritage, and culture. Entrance to the museum costs £5 for adults and £2.5 for children (August 2023). For current prices and opening hours visit gibmuseum.gi website.
Gibraltar Botanic Gardens
Gibraltar Botanic Gardens was commissioned by the British Governor of Gibraltar in 1816 to provide a green space for soldiers to enjoy. They span around 6 hectares and offer many beautiful paths among nature. Gibraltar Botanic Gardens is located near the lower cable car station and is open daily from 8 AM-9 PM.
How to get to Gibraltar?
Gibraltar is accessible by land from Spain, via sea, or by air. It’s located about 120km from Cadiz, 140km from Malaga, 45km from Tarifa, and 115km from Ronda. The most convenient way to get to Gibraltar is by car or by bus.
Airports near Gibraltar
The nearest airport to Gibraltar is located in Gibraltar itself. The next one is located in Malaga, 130km away. Each airport offers a bus connection with Gibraltar town center. To learn more about connections that might interest you visit rome2rio.com website.
Where to park in Gibraltar?
What we recommend is to leave a car in this parking lot in Spain, right next to the border, and cross it on foot. Why? Usually, really long queues form at the border and you may spend unnecessary hours in it.
To Gibraltar by bus
You can also get to Gibraltar by bus. For example, the trip from Cadiz will take about 2h45min (€14-20), from Tarifa about 1h (€4-6), and 2.5h from Malaga (€10-29). To learn more about bus connections that might interest you visit rome2rio.com website.
To Gibraltar by train
Unfortunately, there is no train station in Gibraltar. The closest one is located in Algeciras, about 25km away. From there you can take a bus to Gibraltar. You can check out a map of available connections on acprail.com website.
What To Do In Gibraltar In One Day – Summing up
Now you know what to do in Gibraltar in one day. So many great things to explore, right? We’re sure that your day there will be very eventful! Reserve a full day, explore slowly, and soak up this beautiful result of the sun + United Kingdom combination. Enjoy your trip!
Our opinion about Gibraltar
What can we say, we loved Gibraltar! We love the UK so it was super nice to see red telephone boxes, visit a pub and eat original fish & chips. The area itself is also very charming and pleasant to discover. After months of seeing mostly Spanish white villages, it was great to walk among some colorful and vibrant streets. We were also very happy to do some proper tea shopping. Cons? Can’t really remember any now. Hope you’ll love Gibraltar, like we did!
For us, a visit to Gibraltar was a one-day trip from Tarifa, where we were living for 2 months. We visited it in February and during that time there weren’t huge crowds and the place was fairly peaceful. Without rushing we managed to explore all the places we had on our list, and it took us about 9 hours.
Restaurants, accommodations, and map
Where to eat in Gibraltar?
Here are your best, high-rated options in Gibraltar:
Where to sleep in Gibraltar?
Rock Hotel is a luxurious property located in the heart of Gibraltar, featuring stunning views of the Bay and Strait of Gibraltar. The hotel has an elegant British colonial design with modern amenities, including an outdoor pool, restaurant, and bar. Guests can enjoy the hotel's proximity to Gibraltar's famous landmarks, shopping areas, and lively nightlife.
The Bristol Hotel is a boutique-style hotel situated in the heart of Gibraltar, offering its guests an elegant and comfortable stay. Its location provides easy access to popular tourist attractions such as Main Street and the cable car to the Upper Rock. The hotel features spacious and modern rooms, a restaurant, a bar, and a rooftop pool with stunning views of the Mediterranean and Gibraltar.
Engineer Guest House
The Engineer Guest House in Gibraltar offers comfortable accommodation with friendly staff and a great location close to the city center and attractions. The rooms are spacious and well-maintained, and guests can enjoy a continental breakfast each morning. Overall, it's a great choice for budget travelers looking for a convenient base in Gibraltar.
Sunborn Gibraltar is a luxurious floating hotel that offers stunning views of the sea and the Rock of Gibraltar. The hotel features elegant rooms and suites with modern amenities, as well as a casino, spa, and fitness center. Guests can enjoy delicious cuisine at the hotel's restaurants and bars.
O’Callaghan Eliott Hotel
The O'Callaghan Eliott Hotel is a luxurious 4-star hotel located in the heart of Gibraltar, overlooking the Bay of Gibraltar and within walking distance to the city's attractions. The hotel features 123 elegantly appointed rooms and suites, many of which offer stunning views of the Rock of Gibraltar and the Mediterranean Sea. Amenities include a rooftop pool, fitness center, bar, and restaurant serving local and international cuisine.
Accommodations photos source: booking.com