Five different things to do or see for day trips to Gibraltar

The British colony of Gibraltar abuts into the sea at la Linea, and is a strange but alluring fusion of British life from days gone by, with added Spanish weather, and a few other bits thrown in to the mix that are unique to the Gibraltarians.

The official language on the rock is English, although Spanish is spoken widely, as is the local patois known as Llanito, which is a strange mix of Spanish, Genoese, Maltese, English, and various other bits which have been added into the lingo over time.


The rock is never a place that is far from the news headlines, but even that makes it more exciting and very different too. If you are planning a holiday on the Costa Del Sol this year, or are maybe staying in the adjacent Costa Del la Luz, then we have come up with 5 alternative things to do on day trips to the rock!

Getting in to the rock

As the rock is technically not part of the EU or Spain, strict border controls are in place throughout the year and although in previous years, a warming in relations between it's neighbours meant fewer queues at the border, unfortunately, the present Spanish government have, to date, not been very helpful with this thorny issue of access to and from Gibraltar and therefore you should expect delays if you are a motorist, or at least 3 hours to enter and to leave!

If you are staying nearby, a day trip is often best rather than staying in Gibraltar which is expensive to say the least, although remember businesses on the rock will accept euros, the currency here is pounds sterling. We stayed at the wonderful Rock Hotel for a few days instead of putting up with the awful border queues.

If funds allow, then the Rock Hotel, which is an imposing 4 star art deco hotel, clinging to the side of the rock, and overlooking both the bay of Algeciras, and the distant north African mountains, is a delight to stay there. If only visiting Gibraltar, it is still possible to take afternoon tea at the Rock Hotel, a tradition here, on the wonderful shady terrace that overlooks the bay.

Gibraltar - view from the rock 

Most travel guides and articles about Gibraltar over the years, simply repeat the same things over and over again but to be fair, the rock is a small place and there is only so much you can do and see.

Most travel guides that you will have read previously, will mention tax-free shopping in main street and in the Morrisons supermarket (which is a strange experience if you are used to Spanish supermarkets!), taking the cable car to see the monkeys, seeing the siege tunnels, hanging around Casemates square or the landport tunnel, seeing the Trafalgar cemetery or relaxing in the tropical gardens of Alameda, but on our visit we decided to do it differently, so this is what we came up with!

1. Go to the beach!

If you are staying across the border in Spain, chances are that you won't have to look very far to find a great beach, but the rock also has beaches too, six of them! Most of the beaches in Gibraltar are only used by the locals, so in this case, a little knowledge goes a long way.

The beaches here are as follows: Catalan Bay, Camp Bay, Little Bay, Eastern Beach, Western Beach and Sandy Bay. Ones to the east of the rock are mainly sandy and ones to the west are rocky beaches.

Gibraltar - view from the rock

Eastern beach is probably the largest and busiest beach area on the rock and also offers a variety of water sports too, but be aware this lies at the end of the airport runway and the planes fly in very close to the beach!

After a time on the beach, in the very hot weather we decide to cool down so what better way to do this is to go undergound!

2. Go underground in Gibraltar.

Due to the rock's long military history with Great Britain, the rock has various places that go underground and beneath rock, some of them are well known, so maybe not so well known. If you want to follow the tourist trail, then a trip up the rock to go to St Micheals cave (see image below) is a must see, although as we had "been there and done that" we looked for other places we get inside or under the rock.

Gibraltar - cave auditorium

There are loads of other places that are out of site but go deep into the rock. There are also various old WW2 air raid shelters to discover, some are used as car parking in the upper rock residential streets, and ones nearer to the dockyard are clearly signposted but require permission to view.

Also, and not many people know this, there used to be a steam railway (seriously!) that went around the rock and around Rosia bay, on the way to Europa point, cars drive through a tunnel hewn from the rock, but it was actually a train tunnel many years ago! The Keighley Way Tunnel is a long tunnel that goes underneath the rock but there are around 30 miles of tunnels other here, some had narrow gauge railways to move troops and supplies around. These are well worth checking out and a great way to get out the hot summer sun too!


3. Go and see the mosque at Europa Point.

Gibraltar has always been a real fusion or mix of different cultures, whilst remaining staunchly independent, but with a strong allegiance to the UK. When the border was closed in 1969 by General Franco, the Spanish people who worked on the rock had to be replaced, so the Gibraltar government looked across the water to Morocco and now many north African people work alongside Gibraltarians and British people on a daily basis.

Gibraltar - Rock and Mosquee

After some time the Ibrahim-al-Ibrahim mosque was built for the Muslims to worship here and it's a lovely building that is recommended to see. It was built by King Fahd of Saudi Arabia and is the most southerly mosque in Europe and one of the largest outside of a non Muslim country. A new housing estate was planned for the area too, although it was a while ago we visited so I have no idea if it has been built, but you can also find Gibraltar's cricket club here too.

4. An exhilarating drive up the rock!

There are many ways to reach the top of the rock, where you of course find a cafe, a viewing platform and of course the famous monkeys. By the way don't be fooled into think the monkeys of Gibraltar are cute and cuddly as some of them will have away with your purse or other possessions in no time at all if you get too close to them. On a guided tour, your guide will known which apes to approach and which ones to leave well alone!


Few people drive their car up here and after I personally took the challenge for a bet, I can see why!

The roads that snake up to the top, or at least near to the top, of the rock are vertiginous, very narrow and with an alarmingly close and sheer drop on one side, combined with Swiss Alps style hairpin bends, but if Gibraltar's fleet of small buses could get up there, then why not me?

It is possible to drive up but it's not for the faint hearted or the inexperienced driver but "me being me", I did it anyway! We eventually found a tiny parking area and parked up and took a stroll and there are loads of lookout points, tunnel entrances and so on, that can be spotted when you go up to the rock.

The most difficult way to get to the top of the rock  however is the way the Royal Marines do it once a year, as they have done for the past 50 years. They run up! With a full backpack of army gear too. This is only for the fittest and strongest people, the record time being about 20 minutes, climbing over a 1000 feet!

5. Go monument spotting!

The rock's size belies it's sheer amount of history over the years. From military campaigns, to visiting ships, to the various nationalities of people that have settled or stayed here, there appears to be more or less a monument or statue for everything!


Gibraltar has a variety of monuments scattered around, too many to describe in detail in this article, however briefly they include the Sikorski Monument (Polish resistance), The pillars of hercules, The Royal Memorial plaque (Queen Elizabeth 2nd), the cradle of history monument, Gibraltar museum, Nelson's statue, The Evacuation monument, British war memorial, Moorish bath house, and so many more.

We stayed at a rental home in Chiclana de la Frontera after we left the Rock, but if you are holidaying in the nearby Spanish towns here then why not book a holiday in Andalusia and have some unusual day trips to Gibraltar, you certainly won't forget it in a hurry!