When you hear The Rock, we are sure your first thoughts fly to the one and only Dwayne Johnson; former WWE wrestler, current actor, all-round sweetheart if what The Internet tells us is true.
But no, we’re not thinking about that The Rock, although we are sure he’d be lovely company on holiday. No, The Rock that we are talking about for this Travel Tuesday is Gibraltar, the British Overseas Territory just about as south as you can get along the Spanish coast before you hit Morocco.
Planning a little getaway? Then look no further!
Gibraltar is essentially a southern England seaside resort transported by magical methods to the southern coast of Spain. You have your fish and chip shops, those seaside ring donuts that never taste the same elsewhere, and red phone boxes that could make the Brit abroad feel right at home.
With an area of 6.7 square kilometers and a population of around 30,000 it has quite a high population density – something to be aware of if you were looking for a stretch of beach to yourself. Languages spoken here are English, Spanish, and Llanito – a form of Spanish that uses a lot of English and Genoese words plus loanwords from Italy and other Mediterranean countries.
The temperature here in the summer can be hot, with record temperatures for August reaching 40℃, but mostly the climate is reminiscent of a British summer (without the rain) at a maximum of about 25℃.
Other things to remember: the currency is the Gibraltar Pound, the timezone is UTC+01:00, and Gibraltar’s airport has a reputation for being one of the most dangerous with one of the most awkward runways to navigate – although the last actual accident was in 1943, so perhaps take that with a pinch of salt.
Things to do
It would be downright silly to go to Gibraltar and not see the thing it is most famous for; the Rock Of Gibraltar. For the geologists out there, this formation is a monolithic promontory of Early Jurassic limestone and dolomite. It is 426 meters high, the rock’s upper regions are covered by a nature reserve, and the rock is actually Crown property of the United Kingdom.
While we are on the subject of nature, it would be remiss not to mention Catalan Bay, a beautiful stretch of beach that you can people watch at one end and sunbathe on the other. If you are feeling athletic the Mediterranean Steps will give you a workout and the most spectacular views you can imagine. If you prefer to go deeper then St Michael’s Caves are for you; a network of limestone caves that receives around 1 million visitors per year. Europa Point is the southernmost point of the Iberian Peninsula and is definitely worth a look. And finally the Gibraltar Botanical Gardens are an alternative for those whose idea of outdoors is a park bench and a book, so you have a number of choices available to you.
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For some history you can visit the World War II tunnels and receive an informative, interesting tour from knowledgeable guides. The Gibraltar Museum will introduce you to the local flora, fauna and history. If you prefer to get your history on foot then there are various paid and free walking tours that will satisfy anyone’s curiosity. And on that note, if what you really want from your holiday is just to wander around aimlessly, head to Grand Casemates Square, the larger of two main squares in Gibraltar, great for people watching and taking in seasonal activities held there that are many and varied. Follow this up with a trip to the Main Street to pick up any souvenirs you may want, and you day is complete!
Food, Drink and Fun
No holiday is complete without good food and trying the local alcohol. Gatsby’s is something of a ‘best kept secret’ with a delicious and value for money menu for you to choose from. Café Solo is probably the most famous; an Italian restaurant housed within an old bombproof barracks that will give you something to stare at whilst you wait for your meal. Verdi Verdi is falafel and hummus heaven; our stomachs are rumbling just glancing at the menu.
Charlie’s Steakhouse and Grill serves, well, steak, but is also often listed among the most popular bars in Gibraltar, so bear that in mind. Wembley Bar is essentially a British pub, and O’Reilly’s, unsurprisingly, an Irish one. If you are looking for something a little more sophisticated we would recommend Cork’s Wine Bar, with an extensive food menu to go along with an excellent range of beer and wine.
Anyone who’s anyone in Gibraltar will tell you to visit Dusk, the most popular nightclub that underwent an expansion in 2015 to cater for its increasing demand. The Star Bar is Gibraltar’s oldest tavern, with nights varying from a focus on tapas and seafood paella to eat and karaoke and DJs to keep you entertained. There is also the Casino Admiral, with the to-be-expected gambling, an excellent chargill, and to prove just how British a place Gibraltar is, bingo.
We have given you but a taste of the things you can see and do in Gibraltar, it is a definite must see and has enough to keep you occupied for a good few days; why not put your language to the test and place Gibraltar on your to visit list?