On the south coast of Spain, the British overseas territory of Gibraltar is a haven for tourists, with its warm Mediterranean climate, a multitude of golden beaches and an abundance of activities for people of all ages.
Whether you want a holiday filled with culture, lazy days on the beach, outdoor leisure activities, shopping or nightlife, there really is something for everyone. For a territory that measures just 2.6 square miles, every inch is packed with entertainment.
Gibraltar was inhabited by the Moors from the eighth century and was later ruled by Spain from the 15th century. It became a British territory in 1713 under the Treaty of Utrecht and was an important Royal Navy base during World War II.
Today, it is renowned for its diverse tourism, offering something for everyone - read on to find out the top 10 things to do in Gibraltar...
1. Rock of Gibraltar
A limestone ridge towering 426 metres high on the skyline, the most prominent feature is the famous Rock of Gibraltar. Also known as the Pillars of Hercules, its upper area is a nature reserve, which houses some 300 Barbary macaques - a species of ape. Europe's only wild monkey population is a huge tourist attraction in itself and the reserve is ideal for a family day out.
2. St Michael’s Cave
For centuries, St Michael's Cave was believed to be bottomless, giving rise to the legend that a tunnel under the Strait of Gibraltar linked Gibraltar to Africa. This was said to be how the famous macaques had arrived in Gibraltar. The network of limestone caves is located at a height of more than 300 metres in the Upper Rock Nature Reserve. With its dramatic backdrop of stalagmites, it has been used as a 600-seat theatre since the 1960s.
3. Gibraltar Museum
Learn about Gibraltar's rich cultural history at the Gibraltar Museum, on Bomb House Lane. It takes visitors on a trip back to the Neanderthal period 127,000 years ago and traces a fascinating journey through time, through the inhabitants in the Middle Ages up to modern times. It relates the story of Gibraltar's UNESCO World Heritage Site status and details the discoveries in archaeology, anthropology and biology since the 18th century. The first floor focuses on Gibraltar’s military, natural and social history.
If you're a fan of high street shopping, Gibraltar resembles a British town centre, with branches of major retail chains next to supermarkets and local shops. The shopping district is so popular, it attracts expats from nearby Spain on day trips. Among the national chains with a branch in Gibraltar are Marks & Spencer, Debenhams, Next, Wallis and Mothercare, while Gibraltar's Morrisons branch is one of the most successful and busiest of all the supermarket's stores.
5. Relax on the Beach
Although Gibraltar is relatively small, it boasts six beautiful beaches. Sandy Bay, Catalan Bay, Western Beach and Eastern Beach (Gibraltar's largest beach) are ideal for people of all ages, with their clean, golden sand. Take the family for a day out, relax in the sunshine, or find a secluded spot on Sandy Bay for a romantic day with your loved one. Catalan Bay is next to a charming village, ideal for sight-seeing. The remaining two beaches, Little Bay and Camp Bay, have a rocky shoreline and lidos.
6. Grand Casemate's Square
If you're looking for lively nightlife, this is the place to be. Gibraltar's commercial hub features a multitude of pubs, clubs, restaurants and shops. The area is also steeped in history, with its old World War II barracks that have now become a tourist attraction as an art gallery and restaurant. The area has been turned into an esplanade and offers plenty of al fresco dining.
7. Alameda Botanic Gardens
Established in 1816, the Alameda Botanic Gardens on Grand Parade feature plants from all over the world, including a Mediterranean section filled with pine trees, palms and olives. There are also plants from South Africa, California, Australia, Asia and more. As well as being home to a colourful and fragrant array of exotic plants, the gardens also host occasional live concerts in their amphitheatre.
8. Religious Buildings
If you enjoy cultural sight-seeing, Gibraltar has a number of spectacular historic religious buildings, including the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. Constructed in the 1830s, it features stunning arched porticoes, stained glass windows, many religious statues, an organ and an ornately-carved wooden altar. The Ibrahim-Al-Ibrahim Mosque is one of the most ornate and lavish mosques in mainland Europe and stands next to the Shrine of Our Lady of Europe, representing Gibraltar's religious harmony.
9. Going Underground
One of the highlights of any trip to Gibraltar should be a visit to its network of underground caves and tunnels - a memory of its long military history with Britain. During World War II, the tunnels were of great strategic importance, providing defence and storage facilities and also shelter. There are plenty of organised tours of the tunnels and these can be booked at the Hay’s Level Nature Reserve on Upper Rock.
10. Ocean Village
Ocean Village is located at the modern marina, where many residents live on their luxury boats. Lively waterfront bars and restaurants stand alongside a luxury hotel, while exclusive private yachts bob gently at the quayside, where visitors can relax on the terraces of the bars. This is a great place to experience Gibraltar’s nightlife, including the Casino Sunborn, where you can dine after 11pm.
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