Conquering The Rock! – The Best Things To Do In Gibraltar
Watch & Bullion22 January 2018 | 8 min read
The most famous rock in the world is Gibraltar, a small piece of land located between North Africa and Spain. It is the last frontier in Europe where Hercules split the Mediterranean and the Atlantic mountains with one blow of his sword giving way to a large body of water that would never meet, creating the pillars of Hercules better known as the Straits of Gibraltar.
It is a place where the most famous Naval battles have been fought over the centuries, a boiling pot of cultural goodness with a spice added from the 11 million visitors that travel to see the famous Rock every year. A Rock that has survived 17 sieges and has and still is one of the most disputed pieces of land in history due to its strategic position.
Steeped in rich heritage, Gibraltar has gained importance and a reputation far exceeding its size, influencing and shaping the people who came to reside here over the centuries. Directed by a progressive government it is a place where the new and old world meet creating a contrast that compliments and enriches the DNA of every Gibraltarian.
Gibraltar is a unique stop off when exploring the Mediterranean coastline. Although we’re only 7sq km, this little gem is packed with things to do whether you like a faster or slower pace of life.
With a pleasant mix of cultures and a distinct British touch, Gibraltar is the perfect place for a weekend getaway. It’s not just the Barbary Apes that are cheeky – a rich and vibrant nightlife culture ensure Gibraltar is the place to be for events, festivals and parties all year round!
For those that don’t like the party scene, Gibraltar’s a hotspot for explorers and animal enthusiasts alike given its unique geographical location on the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula. With a vast Nature Reserve built around the Peninsulas history it’s a great place to get back in touch with yourself and with nature.
Gibraltar has something for everyone in a family friendly environment with a practically non-existent crime rate, let’s dive into the must do things when visiting the small British Peninsula.
Climb The Rock of Gibraltar
As we have alluded to, the landmark feature of Gibraltar is the famous ‘Rock’ and you can’t really miss it. At over 400m high, the Rock dominates the landscape, drawing tourists from all over the world for a unique days hiking. Most of the Rock is covered by a nature reserve which is famous for its colony of over 200 Barbary Macaques.
If you get some time in advance it would be highly recommended to book a unique opportunity to attend an award-winning experience by spending time with the macaques in a non-intrusive way and learn about their social behaviours.
Don’t just “see” the macaques by roadside: let Monkey Talk – Gibraltar show you the real macaques. Learn to recognise their facial gestures and body postures. Spend time with the only free-ranging non-human primates in the whole of Europe in their natural habitat and discover their secret lives when they are away from tourists. It is the closest thing to a safari you will get to experience in the Upper Rock. There really is so much to the macaques than seeing them sat on a wall, this an activity for all ages and one that is highly recommended.
During migration seasons, many exotic birds make the Rock their home due to its standout location on the Iberian coast. Whilst exploring the Rock, travellers can also come across a range of flowers and plants only found in Gibraltar such as the Gibraltar Chickweed and Candytuft.
Many excursion trips can be found to give you a full tour of the Rock, but for solo travellers there are popular hiking and driving routes as well as a Cable Car which gives a breath-taking view of the whole of Gibraltar.
Explore St. Michael’s Caves
One of the most popular days out in Gibraltar, St. Michael’s Cave has been attracting visitors since the Roman Times and it’s not hard to see why! Spectacularly lit stalactites bring the cave to life, making it a great day out for all ages.
As you delve deeper into the Cave, many different tunnels and passages can be explored, taking the adventurer down to depths of around 60m.
The Cathedral Cave has been made into a fantastic auditorium, playing host to a number of theatre, music and dance events. With it’s unique acoustics and one of a kind lighting, the Cathedral Cave is the perfect place to experience a live event like no other.
If you are feeling more adventurous, lower St Michaels Cave is definitely for you. In 1942 during the second World War blasting, a discovery was made of a deeper system of caves which is now known as Lower St. Michael’s Cave.
This is a guided tour that needs to be arranged in advance but is well worth it. The tour normally lasts around three hours, however due to the fact that there is some scrambling and minor climbing with ropes involved, duration times may vary.
The cave is totally in its original natural state (although it is fully lit). One of the sites visited during this tour is a beautiful underground lake and fortunately for the visitor, who will no doubt not want to forget this wonderful speleological experience, photography is permitted.
Triumph at Moorish Castle
Since the 11th century, the Moorish Castle has overlooked the people of Gibraltar and remains an icon of the peninsula today. Once a vast expanse of castle towers, walls and gates, much of Moorish Castle has been lost over time to leave The Tower of Homage the last remaining piece of the Marinid Dynasty.
The famous location where Admiral George Rooke raised the British flag in 1704, the Moorish Castle gives a great insight into the history of Gibraltar as well as an awesome view over the rest of Gibraltar.
Although a great family hike in itself, when you have finished exploring the Castle, a walk out to the various hillside Battery points will really get the blood pumping.
Grab a Bargain!
Like any major tourist area, Gibraltar has its own range of shopping outlets for visitors to explore offering a wide variety of well known high street names and an array of other retail options where some bargains can be found if you know where to look.
If you are in Gibraltar why not drop in to see us at Watch & Bullion?
Our store is nestled within what was formerly used as barracks during the 18th century, located in a little arcade on the main Casemates Square surrounded by restaurants and amenities which can be fully enjoyed under the gentle sun whilst watching the world go by.
You’ll receive a very personal service within a discreet location set back from the packed thoroughfare of the Main Street. Dealing with the finest brands in the world, we have no contractual ties to anyone thus being able to give you genuine, impartial advice on all our products.
If you’re looking to pick up a new timepiece whilst visiting Gibraltar, chances are you can get a VAT free deal following a busy days hike up the Rock.
We always recommend you check your countries legislations on VAT free purchases but for most, a watch bargain is easy to come by when visiting us here in Gibraltar.
Relax In The Alameda Botanical Gardens
Established in 1816, The Alameda Gardens was the first investment into public well-being since the British invasion in 1704. After various periods of disrepair, the space is now home to a Botanical Garden focused on education, preservation and sustainability.
The gardens offer a stunning relaxation spot in an otherwise lively Gibraltar, with a wide range of unique wildlife and plants to be seen. Forming part of Gibraltar’s wider nature reserve, The Alameda Gardens play home to a range of bird, insect and reptile species.
The Grand Parade was the hub of military activity for over a hundred years. The changing of the guard was held there every week and the site was used for ceremonial occasions. To this day two 10inch RML guns on slides overlook the Grand Parade.
The promenade around the parade was expanded to include about 8 hectares of land, in what became known as the Alameda Gardens. Derived from the Spanish word “Alamo”, for the white Popular alba trees that once grew along the Grand Parade.
Get Lost In The Great Siege Tunnels
A huge part of Gibraltar’s history revolves around the feuds between the British and Spanish governments. In times gone by, many invasions attempts were made by both sides with The Great Siege of the 1700’s being a stand out period.
With a joint French and Spanish invasion imminent, Governor General Eliott commissioned a labyrinth of military tunnels built into the northern face of the rock. Often remarked as ‘the greatest defence system known to man,’ The Siege Tunnels are a masterpiece in military engineering with over 32 miles of tunnels lacing the entrails of the rock providing hospitals, schools and military garrisons during times of war.
A great pitstop on any journey up The Rock, The Great Siege Tunnels offer a fascinating insight into the military history of Gibraltar and the measures those went through to protect it.
Party The Night Away
Whilst Gibraltar is rich in history and stunning scenery, it also offers a wide variety of evening entertainment with events happening all year round.
National day is the busiest day of the year for parties with the whole of Gibraltar dressing in red and white and partying the day away on the 10th of September. Every year more tourists join the locals in celebrations where the whole family will have a great time ending the night with a spectacular fireworks display.
Whether you’re looking for a traditional British pub, Mediterranean terrace bar, live music venue or top electronic Djs – Gibraltar has something for every taste.
With a vibrant historical culture, Gibraltar has its fair share of colourful festival events. Companies such as the locally based Electronic music entertainment provider Dazed and Confused and the international MTV calling festival are just but a few of the hosts that will not let you down.
Why not check out the Spring Festival in May & June, the Summer Nights event program through July & August or head over in the winter for November’s Festival of Light. One thing’s for sure – you’re guaranteed a fantastic time at all of them.
So, When Are You Coming?
Britain’s slice of the Mediterranean sun is a place truly like no other. With its colourful history and unique spot on the Iberian coastline, Gibraltar has something for the daytime adventurers and night time party goers alike. You can’t come to this part of the world without visiting The Rock, we definitely recommend taking the time to explore the history and catch an event or two.
But of course, the best kept secret about Gibraltar?
Watch & Bullion – drop in to see us and take a look at the stunning range of watches we have on offer, however be warned, if you are a watch enthusiast make provisions to lose track of time and be tempted with a wide variety of offers. We have no contractual agreements with any of the major brands plus our VAT free prices ensure you will be getting the best deals in the world. So, what are you waiting for?
See you soon!