Gibraltar (“Gib” as locals call it) is a hidden gem that often gets overlooked by travellers and is undoubtedly one of the most interesting countries I’ve ever been to.
With only about 30,000 residents, it’s the smallest member of UEFA. As a British Overseas Territory located at the tip of Spain and the Mediterranean Sea, it’s rightfully nicknamed, “little Britain in the sun.”
I wondered how British the little country could possibly be, considering that it’s surrounded by Spain, but once there, it’s impossible to not feel like you’re in little Britain at the sight of all the officers in British helmets, red telephone booths, fish and chips restaurants and English pubs line its cobblestone streets.
As one of Britain’s last remaining colonies, it is quinessintelly British…with a twist.
British writer Laurie Lee once commented that Gibraltar is like “a piece of Portsmouth sliced off and towed 500 miles south.”
While the only official language in Gibraltar is English, Spanish is common to hear when walking around the country. In fact, locals speak with a curiously accented sing-song mix of the two languages, sometimes even switching back and forth between the two mid sentence.
We were in the country for 2 days and absolutely loved it there. The Mediterranean vibe mixed with the quaint Britishness of everything gives off a really cool atmosphere that makes you feel like you could be in a James Bond movie.
On top of that, with the great weather and friendly locals, Gib has definitely become one of my favourite countries in the world!
Here are some of my favourite things to do there!
1. See Africa from the Top of the Rock
The biggest attraction and defining feature of Gibraltar is undoubtedly “The Rock of Gibraltar”, made of 200 million year old Jurassic limestone that rises 426 m. It’s one of the most dramatic landforms found in Southern Europe.
On a good day, you can even see the coast of Africa from up there, which is pretty amazing! You can get to the top by taking a cable car.
2. Monkeying around in the Apes Den
The Rock is also home to apes! At the top of the Rock, you can find the Apes Den, which is home to about 200 Barbary macaques, which are the only wild primates in Europe!
According to Spanish legend, when the apes disappear from Gibraltar, so will the British. This of course prompted the British Prime Minister to deliver more apes to the Rock!
3. Have some fish and chips at Casemates Square
As the largest square in the country, it’s located on the northern end of Main Street and is lined with pubs and restaurants. The square dates back to the country’s Moorish period when the place was first fortified, making it as old as the city itself!
4. See the changing of the guards in The Covent
The Covent is the official residence of the Governor of Gib since 1728, located towards the southern end of Main Street. The building is guarded by soldiers of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment and during the weekdays, you can watch the changing of the guards!
For those who like a good ghost story, apparently the covent is haunted by the ghost of a nun known as “Lady in Grey.” The story goes that she was walled up live in one of the guest rooms, as punishment for breaking her vows to become a nun after she married against her father’s wishes.
To this day, it is believed that she roams the corridor outside the guest room!
5. Relax at Europa Point
At the southernmost point of Gib, the lighthouse serves as a waypoint for vessels passing through the strait. In the area, there’s also the Shrine of our Lady Europe and the Mosque of the Custodian of the Holy Mosques, which is on elf the most expensive mosques in Europe per square metre to build. Because of the close proximity between the two, it’s seen as a beacon for peace snd harmony between religions.
You can fly, drive or even walk into Gibraltar, which is accessible via Spain through the Spanish border town called La Linea. The border is open 24 hours and there’s no fee to enter. You need to have your passport or EU id ready for inspection.
During rush hours, the queue can be quite long as many people commute between the two countries for work. It’s one of the most interesting borders I’ve ever crossed!
Have you guys been to Gibraltar?