what to do in gibraltar, gibraltar beaches
Destination & countries, Europe, Spain, Travelling with kids

What To Do In Gibraltar: Gibraltar Beaches And Sightseeing

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This article was prepared during the Covid-19 outbreak. Below you will find our special step-by-step guide traveling to Gibraltar from the UK.

The decision to visit Gibraltar was very spontaneous and based purely on the restrictions due to Covid-19 at the time. We simply wanted a getaway to spend more time as a family doing nothing but lots of swimming at the pool, exploring Gibraltar beaches and surroundings. Today we will tell you what to do in Gibraltar to have an outstanding family vacation.

Visiting Gibraltar

Also known as “Gib” or “The Rock”, Gibraltar is quite unique and culturally diverse mixing English, Spanish, and North African ethnic identities. Not as many but there are things to do in Gibraltar. When you come with a young family, it may be a good idea to explore different Gibraltar beaches, enjoy the pool at the hotel, and discover Gibraltar Nature Reserve with a cable car that will bring you to the majority of sightseeing spots and a lot of macaques living in nature which is quite fascinating. They are also considered to be the only wild primates in Europe.

Note: Be very careful with monkeys! They are fantastically handy in stealing whatever you have in your backpack. Read our tips and tricks on handling the monkeys as well as safety rules when visiting Gibraltar.

Finally, Gibraltar has a very strong naval presence. Wherever you go, you will find a historical aspect, such as a cemetery commemorated to the ones who died in the battle, stone-built walls, cannons, guns, and other statues. The Gibraltar Museum is where you can find more about the history of Gibraltar, such as rock’s military and naval.

What currency is used in Gibraltar?

The currency for Gibraltar is either British Pounds £ or Euro €.

During our short break in Gibraltar, we needed cash for the public transport and a babysitter for a night out only. Unless otherwise, we always used our UK bank card.

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What language do people speak in Gibraltar?

It was quite confusing for us actually because we speak both Spanish and English. It often happened to us that we started the conversation in Spanish and switched to English, or when we used English, we were asked to speak Spanish.

The official language is English, and it is actively promoted. All the signs are in English. Schools have only one English language and do not study Spanish as a second language. So, if you come to Gibraltar, there won’t be a problem in communication.

When is the best time to visit Gibraltar?

Gibraltar is a tiny peninsula located on the southern coast of Spain. Like traveling to Spain, the best time of the year is autumn starting from the end of August up until the last week of October. It is also an off-season where you may get a good deal, especially if you fly to Malaga.

We have traveled in May, and it was absolutely pleasant. However, since Gibraltar has a rock in the middle of it, sometimes it gets cloudy. If you are exploring the side with Gibraltar beaches, then the sun will hide by 5:30-6 pm sharp, while if you are on the other side where the town is, you may enjoy the pool until 8-8:30 pm.

How to get around in Gibraltar?

Sightseeing in Gibraltar is possible without using any transport. It is a very small city, so you can walk. You may spend half an hour to an hour walking to pretty much any destination you wish. We didn’t feel a need to rent a car. Most residents use electric scooters or motorcycles. There is a possibility to rent an electric bike to explore the Rock of Gibraltar too.

Taxis are extremely expensive. You will pay at least £10 – £11 for up to a 10-minute ride, for example, if you go from the airport to the hotel. But you can take the bus instead. To go over the mountain from the town to the beach will probably cost you about £15 – £20.

A local bus is a good and bad option at the same time. The problem with such a small city like Gibraltar is that there is only one taxi company and two bus operators, so the prices are well-set at the preferred rate. You can’t argue with that. There are a few bus lines, but the wait can exceed an hour on the weekends, so sometimes it would even make more sense to walk rather than wait.

You can get a single ticket for almost £1.50, or you can choose to pay for a day ticket for £2.50 that is valid until 9 pm on the same day.

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Accommodation in Gibraltar

Once you are in Gibraltar, the accommodation becomes at least three times more expensive than in Spain. However, there are a few youth hostels and Airbnb options.

As a family getaway, it was important for us to get a place with the pool, so we stayed at the Rock Hotel, which is quite popular there. And of course, the service was outstanding. I now may say it is one of the best hotels in Gibraltar.

Teo made a lot of friends there among the hotel managers and service team. The pool area was right across the road, and it seemed like a hidden paradise with its own bar and kitchen. Rooms were cleaned on a daily basis.

They also have the possibility to book a shower room which we have never come across before. So, on the departure date, we checked out by 11 am, spent the whole day at the pool, and then used one of these free shower services to get us ready for the flight home.

Is Gibraltar expensive?

Gibraltar belongs to the UK, so it is expensive. Once you cross the border, everything gets three times more expensive than in Spain. This is one of the reasons why travelers prefer to stay in Spain and arrange day trips to Gibraltar instead.

Tips to cross the border

If you want to cross the border, you can either do it by foot, bus, or your personal vehicle. Nowadays, you will be checked, and you will get the stamp in your passport too.

The border locates behind the airport of Gibraltar. People walk right in the middle of the aircraft runway!

If you go by local transport, you should consider a bus with a sign “Special Service” and a little piece of paper hanging from the sign and displaying Nr. 5/10.

You will sometimes face queues, so pick your time wisely. The queues may take up to two hours to cross.

Can I fly to Gibraltar and stay in Spain?

There are direct Gibraltar flights from UK. And yes, you sure can.

Food and drinks in Gibraltar

Eating out in Gibraltar is similar to the UK. It is quite pricey. One thing that the hotels do not offer, compared to hotels in the Canary Islands, is an all-inclusive package including breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner. So, either you have to cook if you rent a house, or buy food in the market.

Lunch may cost you around £35 – £40 per person, including the main dish and a cocktail. Sometimes the deals include desert. Breakfasts, such as Full English Breakfast, cost around £15-£20 per person.

Is Gibraltar safe?

Gibraltar is extremely safe. Once we were out on a date night at midnight, we saw only empty streets. Night lighting is very good too.

The only hazard may be macaques that you can meet on the Rock of Gibraltar but again, the secret to that is to take several precautions and you are safe.

How to handle macaques on the Rock?

Once you have left the cable car, you will see a lot of macaques. There are few things to be aware of:

  • Don’t tease them
  • Don’t get close especially if they are with babies
  • Don’t feed them
  • Make sure your backpack is properly sealed and ALWAYS keep it in the front

How do I know that? Well, my son’s lunch and snacks were stolen in seconds as the monkey jumped on me, masterfully opened my backpack, and took all that she needed. So, keep your bag in the front!

What do you do if the monkey is on you and try to open or steal your belongings?

We were explained that you could gently push her away (which I didn’t feel comfortable doing), or kneel down, grab a small stone (or act like you grabbed one), and pretend that you will throw it into the monkey. The worker told us that they are scared of stones the most and will jump off us immediately.

Be careful and don’t play around. They know how to bite.

What to do in Gibraltar?

There are quite a few things to do in Gibraltar.

The Rock of Gibraltar

The first up is the Rock. The Rock of Gibraltar is absolutely fascinating. It’s full of history, myths, legends, and real-life stories. You can either get a cable car or rent an electric bike to cycle around the Gibraltar Nature Reserve.

The cable car will get to a stunning city view. Then just follow the path and you will explore a lot of interesting places.

Skywalk

This is a first stop – a  small glass construction that lets you see the stunning Gibraltar beaches.

St. Michaels Cave

The caves of Gibraltar are amazing. St. Michael’s Cave is full of secret paths and a stunning lighting system where you can see thousands of stalagmites and stalactites.

O’Hara’s Battery

Among other places to visit in Gibraltar, O’Hara’s Battery is an artillery battery in the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar. It is located at the highest point of the Rock. Inside you can dive into the history, listen to how things worked in the past, cross the dark tunnel, learn more about soldiers and get inside a canon. The exhibit is well made, and the view from the spot with the canon is great!

Windsor Suspension Bridge

One of the best things to do in Gibraltar is to climb to Windsor Suspension Bridge from which you can see the town center of Gibraltar.

From there you either can take a cable car to get down or continue your route to the other side of the Rock. On the other side, you will find

  • Moorish Castle
  • Great Siege Tunnels – a system of tunnels that were dug during the Great Siege and acted as a defense system.
  • And lots of different Batteries

Gibraltar Beaches

On the other side of the mountain, you will find one of the most popular Gibraltar beaches – three, to be exact!

  • Catalan Bay (also known as “Caleta”) was the one we visited.
  • Sandy Bay has an amazing pool, and it is quite family-friendly. You can rent a paddleboat there too. It is also a 10-minutes walk away from Catalan Bay.
  • The Eastern Beach

Take bus Nr. 4 or 8 to get there, but sometimes it may take you more than an hour to wait, so you may prefer walking or taking a cab.

Note: you cannot rent an umbrella in Gibraltar anymore, you can only buy one for £15 – £20 if you wish to have one. In May, we barely could walk as sand was burning our feet, and an umbrella was a necessity. We were lucky that one family kindly lent us one umbrella for the time being. Unless, otherwise, please ask your hotel if they have one!

The Gibraltar National Museum

So, what to do in Gibraltar? The perfect way to learn all about the Rock’s military and naval history is to visit the Gibraltar National Museum.

Ocean Village

This is an area in the city center filled with restaurants and bars offering a variety of different cuisines.

We went to Curry Sushi for dinner. The food was absolutely delicious, but this place is loud. Prepare to eat not talk. The Gin bar called “The Yard” was a great quiet option for a perfect parents’ date night. It was our first time to try different sorts of Gin cocktails.

Europa Point

This is the point where both Mediterranean and Atlantic oceans meet.

Dolphin Tour

You can take a boat trip to the Bahía de Algeciras where you can watch a lot of dolphins jumping from the waves.


Visiting Gibraltar during pandemic Covid-19

In May 2021 UK government has announced the green list of countries with Gibraltar in it. No wonder, Gibraltar is a part of the UK. Plus, with a population of almost 30,000 people, the vaccination program was successfully completed, resulting in almost everyone being vaccinated with two doses.

Regardless of the fact that Gibraltar is quite expensive, we decided to take a chance and get a week of a getaway filled with sunshine, pool, and our favorite “nothingness” (a term that we invented to identify a holiday when we literally do nothing but rest and swim, although there are quite a few things to see in Gibraltar).

What about the safety and pandemic? Well, we have traveled to Gran Canaria in November, and we learned that traveling may be safer than going to the local store where nobody wears masks. At least at the airport or on a plane, you know that nobody is sick as

  • You wear a mask at all times.
  • You take a Covid test on arrival and before departure.

But, honestly speaking, it was a lot of stress to make sure that we got it all right. I have spent an entire week learning all the rules, and these are not easy to understand when you travel for the first time. Some questions arise, and there is no direct communication rather than guidelines on the website. I now know that it is not as difficult to travel but it was definitely a challenge for me at the time. So, I would like to share a step-by-step guide traveling to a green list country.

So, how do you travel to Gibraltar during Covid-19 pandemic?

This applies only if you travel from the UK, have a residency in the UK, and the UK government lists Gibraltar as a green list country.

All the updates can be found here:

Below are the steps to successful travel to Gibraltar in case if it is listed as a green list country.

  • Purchase the flight
  • Book accommodation
  • Get your insurance
  • Check-in for the flight
  • Once you have got a seat number, click here and fill in the locator form to enter Gibraltar
  • Once you have completed the form, you will be redirected to book your lateral flow test on arrival to Gibraltar. Unless otherwise, you can book it here. This service is free. You generally do not have a queue, but even if there is one, it doesn’t take too long. You won’t spend more than an hour. Children under 6 years of age are not required to do the Covid test.
  • Email Gibraltar airport ([email protected]) and have written confirmation in case if you face any troubles during the boarding. I also took the lateral flow test at home from the NHS kit, however, it was not necessary. The only thing you need is to show at the airport the proof that you have booked the free lateral flow test on your arrival to Gibraltar.
  • Book the Day 2 Covid Test using one of the testing providers approved by the UK government. A list of general COVID-19 testing providers can be found here.
  • Pack your bags
  • Start your holiday, relax, and learn more about what to do in Gibraltar
  • Three days before your departure (72 hours to be exact), you should get back to Gibraltar Airport and perform the same test. Again you can book it here within minutes. It is mandatory to have this test and not any others you may have brought with you, such as home kits. You will be checked at the airport in Gibraltar during the check-in procedure. And the test costs £30 per person.
  • Two days before the departure (48 hours) you should fill in the UK locator form which is a bit more complicated than the previous one.

Note: In the form, you will have to add a reference booking number of your pre-purchased PCR Day 2 Covid test (see p.8).

Children under the age of 12 do not require the test.

  • Take the Day 2 Test at home and put it in the nearest post box.

Do you have more suggestions about what to do in Gibraltar? Share with us in the comments below. Have a safe journey!

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