Gibraltar – how to get there, what to see, and why?

This post aims to help you plan your trip to Gibraltar, offering personal insights and suggestions on how to reach specific sites and what to explore. While this isn’t a comprehensive guide—you’ll find that in our mobile app—it provides a collection of loose ideas to enhance your experience in the area. Given the prevalence of outdated information online, these up-to-date, subjective observations aim to give you a fresh perspective on Gibraltar.


Gibraltar – How To Get There

Many visitors travel to Gibraltar from towns along the Costa del Sol or from Cádiz. While the motorway passes a few kilometres from the British-Spanish border, it’s convenient to leave your car in La Línea de la Concepción, just before the crossing. In my opinion, driving over the border isn’t worth the hassle—parking in Gibraltar is both expensive and limited. Instead, you can use a large, reasonably priced car park in La Línea (about a dozen euros per day), which is only 300 metres from the border and passport control. Although free street parking in La Línea is an option, finding a spot can often be challenging.

Across The Runway To The Centre

There is a bus stop conveniently located just across the border, next to a shopping centre, where you can catch a bus to Grand Casemates Square. Since spring 2023, it is no longer possible to cross the runway by car, all vehicles must use the newly-built tunnel. However, you can still bike or walk across. It’s about 1 km to the start of Main Street and approximately 2.5 km to the cable car that takes visitors to the top of the Rock. Directly adjacent to the runway, within the shopping centre at the crossing, you’ll find a restaurant featuring a terrace overlooking the runway—a prime spot for watching planes. Access the terrace by taking the lift to the first floor. Another excellent location for planespotters is near the so-called Moorish Castle, offering distinct views that are just as impressive.

Navigating Gibraltar By Car

If you’re more interested in exploring the city or Europa Point—home to the iconic lighthouse and mosque—driving in by car is a feasible option. However, it’s best to avoid peak hours to dodge traffic jams typically caused by commuters. At Europa Point, you’ll find that parking is both easy and free. While walking to the city centre from here isn’t particularly scenic or interesting, taking the bus is a more appealing option.

Parking near the cable car station that leads up to the Rock can be challenging. Most parking spaces are reserved for locals, so you might find yourself searching for the few available paid public spots. The same parking difficulties apply at other public car parks at the foot of the Rock. It’s interesting to note that Gibraltar has a high vehicle density; there is one car for every two residents, and counting motorbikes, essentially every person in Gibraltar, including the elderly and infants, has some form of transport. Remember, this small piece of the UK covers just 6.5 square kilometres, 40 percent of which is the Upper Rock Nature Reserve.

Upper Rock Reserve – or the Rock

An entry on ‘how to visit and get to Gibraltar’ would not be complete without at least a brief overview of what we have to see on Gibraltar Rock.

First and foremost, if you’re visiting Andalusia in winter, check if the cable car to the Rock of Gibraltar is closed for its annual maintenance, as taxi fares can skyrocket during this period. A fun alternative is to take a taxi up the Rock (if necessary) and enjoy a scenic walk down, stopping at various attractions along the way.

The Rock hosts several intriguing sights. Beyond the famous monkeys, you can visit the Skywalk viewing platform and O’Hara Battery, which both offer spectacular views. St. Michael’s Cave and the tunnels from the Great Siege are must-sees for history enthusiasts. Don’t miss the Ape’s Den and Windsor Suspension Bridge, and while the Jewish cemetery adds to the rich tapestry of sites, it involves plenty of walking since attractions are spread out.

While the Torre del Homenaje or Moorish Castle offers good views, especially of the runway, nearby viewpoints provide similarly impressive panoramas without the crowds. The cable car’s top station, Signal Hill, is known for its bustling, overpriced restaurant and a gift shop amidst the remnants of old artillery installations. It’s best to head quickly to the Skywalk or O’Hara Battery for a better experience.

For the adventurous, the ‘Mediterranean Steps’ offer a challenging but rewarding hike. This 40-minute climb begins at the Pillars of Hercules monument and ascends to O’Hara Battery, providing breathtaking views along the southeast side of the Rock.

Taxi To The Rock – Is It Worth it?

Unless you have to take it (because the cable car is closed, or you can’t walk such long distances), avoid it. The taxi only gets you to certain attractions (St Michael’s Cave, Skywalk, and the Moorish Castle). Besides, the road is narrow and one-way, so your sightseeing time is determined by the ‘timing’ of the string of taxis arriving at the next attractions. You won’t be able to visit anything else but what’s directly beside the road.

Beyond The Iconic Rock

Gibraltar evokes mixed feelings in general; for many, it appears unattractive, especially when compared to some of the places on the Costa del Sol or nearby Tarifa. Personally, I like it. One can imagine what would happen if the UK suddenly relocated to the Mediterranean. Most tourists come here to see the monkeys on the Rock. However, Gibraltar offers other interesting things to see!

  • Main Street serves as the ‘natural’ route from the border to the bottom station of the cable car for pedestrians. Along the way, you can grab a bite at Grand Casemates Square. For more information, we offer an audio guide to Main Street on our app.
  • The botanical garden, located next to the lower train station, is also worth a visit.
  • Consider visiting the Gibraltar Museum, which features an exhibit dedicated to the first Neanderthals (the oldest remains discovered here!) on the East Side, near Europa Point. Unfortunately, tours to the Neanderthal caves are extremely limited (small groups, available for only three months of the year), requiring significant effort to arrange.
  • Europa Point, with its lighthouse, mosque, and memorial to the Polish WWII General Sikorsky, is another noteworthy spot. While most tourists visit for the lighthouse, the General’s story is poignant in itself. Personally, the place holds a historical and nostalgic dimension for me, pondering ‘what if Sikorski hadn’t died.’ The sound of the muezzin’s call to prayer echoing over the General’s memorial leaves a profound impression.
  • If you appreciate old British and Spanish fortifications, Gibraltar boasts plenty of them. Remnants of Arab fortifications also exist, albeit fewer in number.

We Want To Go Swimming!

You could. Only that the sensible beaches in Gibraltar are on the eastern side of the Rock, which means they are in shade for most of the day. In addition, they are crowded. In our opinion – it’s not worth it, and if you really need to, head to Tarifa, about 40 minutes further south-west. It’s an atmospheric little town, the actual southernmost point in Europe. Cool sandy beaches (real sand), nice old town, many good small restaurants.

And one more thing, if you are visiting the Costa del Sol – be sure to take a look at our mobile guide! You’ll also visit Ronda with us, as well as the Costa!


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