Epic views, sunshine and monkeys: Why you should head to Gibraltar this summer

A view of Gibraltar from the Top of the Rock.
A view of Gibraltar from the Top of the Rock. Copyright Getty Images via Canva
Copyright Getty Images via Canva
By David Walsh
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Mingle with monkeys and lounge on beaches on this Mediterranean peninsula.


There’s a feeling of being in a sunny version of the UK when visiting Gibraltar.

Its red telephone boxes and post boxes, as well as branches of popular supermarket Marks & Spencer and restaurant Pizza Express, make Brits feel right at home - despite being on Spain's southern edge.

'Gib', as some locals call it, has been a British Overseas Territory for over three centuries and wears its sensibilities on its sleeve.

However, the one key thing that sets it apart from its UK counterpart is the weather. With spring temperatures already in the low-20s and summer temperatures set to reach the comfortable high-20s, its the ideal place to catch some rays without going full lobster. 

What are the best things to do in Gibraltar?

Flying into Gibraltar Airport sets the seal for what is already a unique city break by most standards. Besides the aircraft’s approach being an experience in itself, your arrival will literally stop traffic (no, seriously).

The main road onto the peninsula intersects the runway so cars and pedestrians often have to wait for planes to touch down or take off before they can scurry across to the other side.

Besides landing, here are our picks of the top things to see and do while you’re there.

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A British Airways flight prepares to take off from Gibraltar Airport.Allard1/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Ride the cable car to the top of the Rock

The first point of order during any trip to Gibraltar should be taking a ride on the cable car to the top of the Rock. 

It takes six minutes to reach the summit, and the views of three countries and two continents from the terraces at the Top Station are well worth the climb. As well as the enclave below and the surrounding Costa Del Sol in Spain, you can gaze across the Gibraltar Strait into Morocco

The Top Station is also one of the homes of the Rock’s famous residents, the Barbary macaques. While their presence is a novelty to tourists, do exercise caution when you’re around them. As well as being light-fingered, they can also attack if they feel intimidated or if you have food visible.

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The cable car to the Top of the Rock, Gibraltar.maniscule/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Mingle with macaques in Apes' Den

It’s said that when the macaques - which were believed to have been introduced from North Africa centuries ago - disappear, the British will leave Gibraltar. The hairy dwellers at the Top of the Rock are going nowhere fast at present though.

One of the best spots to see them is Apes' Den, a nature reserve at the Middle Station (this cable car stop is only opened seasonally, though).

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A Barbary macaque against the backdrop of Gibraltar Harbour.paulafrench/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Head to the tip of the peninsula: Europa Point

Nearby Isla de las Palomas in Spain claims to be Europe’s most southerly spot. But don’t let this discourage you from visiting the tip of the peninsula, which the locals call Europa Point.

From this vantage point near Trinity Lighthouse, you can watch as ships cross from the Mediterranean into the Atlantic or look towards the horizon and North Africa beyond. 

Europa Point is also significant as it is the location of two of the territory’s most important religious sites: Ibrahim-al-Ibrahim Mosque and the Roman Catholic Shrine of Our Lady of Europe.

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Peering into Morocco from Europa Point.Rui Marinho/Unsplash

Explore the Siege Tunnels deep within the Rock

Almost like a small city inside the Rock itself, over 35 miles of passages, halls and storage spaces lay buried inside the peninsula’s most prominent landmark. 

The first tunnels were excavated in the late 1700s during the Great Siege launched by Spanish and French forces, with additions later dug out and blasted during the Second World War, mining techniques having significantly advanced.

The labyrinthine - and often claustrophobic - tunnels are a must-visit but bring comfortable shoes: it’s an arduous climb back up to the surface.

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The Great Siege tunnels within the Rock.LorenFFile/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Relax and recharge in Casemates Square


After a busy day climbing up and down the peninsula’s steep hills and steps, rest and refreshment are called for. Given the climate, cafe culture is a big part of life on the Rock and its epicentre is arguably Casemates Square, Gibraltar’s largest plaza.

Taking its name from a British barracks that took up most of the square, the surrounding buildings now occupied by bars and cafes were once ammunition stores.

Just off Casemates is the start of Irish Town, a pedestrianised district behind Main Street where you’ll find your pick of places to eat, particularly for traditional British fish and chips.

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Bars and cafés lining Casemates Square, Gibraltar.Getty Images via Canva

Catch some rays on Gibraltar's beaches

The British enclave is less than 7 km squared, so the beaches you would normally associate with Iberian coastlines are somewhat lacking. There are, however, half a dozen beaches that can offer a small taste of a more typical Mediterranean break.

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The beach and pastel-painted houses at Catalan Bay.Elena Horrmann/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Eastern Beach by the airport is the largest and most popular because it gets sun for most of the day. For that reason alone, it can get overcrowded. You’re more likely to mix with locals at the smaller Catalan Bay beach further down the coast. The pastel-painted rows of houses and seafront restaurants are also a big draw.

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