Our stay in Gibraltar was only a few hours, so this is going to be a quick and dirty post. First, I must mention that if I were you, I would recommend spending a full day and possibly even a night in Gibraltar. We definitely could have used more time. I think I had imagined Gibraltar as being somewhat touristy (and it was, to an extent), but because so many expats live in Gibraltar, the town seemed to have more of a local scene than I expected and the history of Gibraltar is quite fascinating. You definitely want a full day to explore the Rock and you may want to spend a night in the city.
I have wanted to visit Gibraltar ever since I studied abroad in Spain. I wasn’t able to make it at that time, so I promised myself that next time I went to Spain, Gibraltar would be on the itinerary. Fortunately, Alex was on board. We were able to take an easy 3 hour bus ride from Malaga to La Linea, the Spanish town right next to Gibraltar. Personally, I think it’s easiest to just buy bus tickets at the station rather than trying to deal with foreign websites and confirmation numbers, so we just biked to the Malaga bus station, bought our bus tickets for the next morning, and then returned in time for our scheduled departure. (Expert tip: When traveling to La Linea, MAKE SURE that you buy the “direct” ticket. I say direct in quotes because there are still stops, but far fewer than the local bus. The direct ticket is the shortest trip at 3 hours, and runs along the coastline so has beautiful views.)
When you arrive in La Linea, you exit the bus station and literally walk across the street where you walk through passport control into Gibraltar. As you may imagine, it is a very unique experience! Passport control doesn’t actually stamp your passport, but if you are like me and like the stamps, you can just ask for one (I promise it is worth it!). Once you cross the border, you can leave your bags at the tiny Gibraltar airport if you don’t want to carry them. Then you’ll want to take a taxi or a double-decker bus into the city center. We saw a plane take off on the runway right in front of us, and if you’re really feeling adventurous, you can walk across the runway! You can also sign up for a taxi tour of Gibraltar and the Rock as soon as you arrive just after passport control. We opted for the double-decker bus because (hello!!!) we don’t get to ride those every day in America.
We took the double-decker bus to the city center and then walked to the cable car station for the Rock. There are a few ticket options to choose from: cable car, cable car + nature preserve, and various tours. Read this link regarding various attractions on the Rock. We opted for just the round trip cable car since we had a time crunch. When we reached the top, we walked around the top of the rock and saw all of the apes. They are pretty adorable, but apparently they can be quite vicious! We also took a short hike on some trails from the top of the rock to a point where you could see Africa in the distance.
Ready for some cute ape pictures?
More cute ape pictures…
The reason I suggest spending more time in Gibraltar is due to the sheer amount of activities you can do just on the Rock. There are gardens, museums, caves, tunnels, a Moorish castle, nature preserve, and more. You could easily spend an entire day exploring the Rock. That’s not even leaving time to hang out in the city center, which I would also recommend doing. There are plenty of shops if you want to buy souvenirs. Alex and I particularly enjoyed seeing the many English pubs. We felt like we had somehow stumbled into England from Spain (which, actually, we kind of did since Gibraltar is a British territory!). We had pints and fish and chips for lunch at The Clipper, complete with real English waiters. I was fascinated to learn that many English students move to Gibraltar for a few years to work and live closer to Spain. I think I would probably do the same thing in their situation!
One last recommendation is a cafe we didn’t have the pleasure of visiting, but I have to mention it because of the funny circumstances in which I learned of it. Last football season, Alex and I were out at a bar in Gainesville with some friends, one of whom was trying to hit on a girl there. I got to talking with her and found out she had come to UF from Sweden (I think) and had a friend named Fiona Shaxon who was opening a cafe in Gibraltar called Oasis Eatery. Because of the time crunch, we didn’t make it there (the cafe is a bit off the beaten path and we were hustling to get to our ferry in time), but if anyone ever gets to Gibraltar, let me know if you check it out! The menu looks good; lots of fun little breakfast and brunch items.
Our day in Tangier ended shortly after eating at the Clipper. We had to go pick up our bags from the Gibraltar airport and jump on a bus to get to the port to get on our ferry for Tangier! Next up, our adventures in Africa!
Eat: The Clipper, Irish Town, Gibraltar (really, that is the address!)
Do: See The Rock, ride a double-decker bus, walk across an airport runway
Do not: Feed the apes
Advice: Have your currency in pounds, spend a full day on the Rock, and make sure to take the direct bus,